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Planning requirements 'to be scrapped from office conversions'

Planning minister Nick Boles is reportedly set to announce this week that developers will be free to convert offices into flats without planning permission.

The Financial Times today reports that the change, due to be announced within days, will not include the City of London.

Office vacancy rates in some regions are hitting record highs, while housing volumes are stagnating.

Nick Boles last year called for developed land to be increased by a third, and called modern housebuilding “ugly rubbish”.

DLA Piper partner Howard Bassford, responding to the news, said initiatives that free up office space for residential uses are “likely to be good news”. 

“For developers, planners and lawyers, key questions will revolve around the effect on neighbourhoods in terms of traffic consequences - how will rush hour change?; and demand for services: will there be enough schools, doctors and shops? 

“Developers converting buildings will be expected to pay. Ultimately, without the cost of brand new buildings, if the benefits for developers outweigh the cost of providing services it will be good news for them as well.”

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