In 2013 the Government introduced new permitted development rights to allow office buildings to be converted to residential use. This was for an initial temporary period of 3 years but they subsequently made the new rights permanent in 2016. The new permitted development rights in effect meant the council had to accept the principle of the change of use and could only consider the proposal against a number of stated criteria. These were considered via a prior approval process, which is a form of ‘streamlined’ planning application.
One of the offices prior to conversion
It was however immediately clear that planning authorities were very carefully scrutinising the prior approval applications as they were reluctant to see the loss of employment floor space. Therefore, whilst the process was meant to be more streamlined, it was essential that the prior approval applications are carefully presented to the planners addressing all the issues raised by the stated criteria. We have also found it best to provide indicative floor plan drawings to show how proposed residential use could be achieved. Extracts of some illustrative drawings used (prepared by PKA Architects) are shown.
RCC have prepared and submitted a number of prior approval applications in a variety of locations including Swindon, Bath, Weston Super Mare and Maidstone. With most submissions RCC have successfully addressed the criteria of the prior approval process within our planning submission, however, in some instances we have also included additional reports prepared by specialist consultants. All the prior approval applications submitted by RCC have been permitted. Photographs of the completed flats together with a photo of one of the office buildings prior to the conversion works are provided to view.