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As most clients and property owners are aware, there are Permitted Development Rights under the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. This includes the ability to apply for a change of use of an office (B1) building (and land within a curtilage) to residential use.

However, this is not as straightforward as it may seem and there are some situations where permitted development will not be granted. This includes (but not exclusively) the following:

  • Where the building was not used as offices immediately before 20th May 2013.
  • The site is or forms part of, a safety hazard area.
  • A Listed building.
  • Some local authorities have opted out of this legislation, and in those specific cases, a full planning application will be required.

We have seen a significant increase in the recent rate of conversion of offices to residential use within the majority of our practice areas.

By way of example, 30 Crouch Street (photo attached) in Banbury, a 1970's constructed three-storey office block extending to 575 sq m in a secondary location sold with the benefit of Permitted Development for conversion to 9 flats. The property achieved a sale price of approximately 35% higher than its existing office use value.

These types of conversion projects can have a greater appeal, being of interest to many local or regional builders and developers. Consequently, in most cases, we have seen a wider draw of potential purchasers.

Squeeze On Office Space

In many market towns across the United Kingdom, we are experiencing a relative shortfall in supply of town centre office space, primarily due to the number of units that have been converted to residential use under the permitted development rights. This may present an opportunity for those landlords and property owners that have existing office buildings to attract new tenants at more competitive rates that have been seen in the past. Equally, we have witnessed freehold office values increase in the majority of areas due to the increase in competition from non-office users.

In the event you have an office facility, Brown & Co can assist with the appraisal of options including potential redevelopment under Permitted Development Rights or indeed the reletting on competitive office terms. For further advice, please contact your local Brown & Co commercial team.


Tim Humphrey MRICS