Government relaxes planning laws for offices

The government has announced new measures in the Budget which will allow office space to be converted into residential space. This will give owners another way of avoiding the dreaded empty property rates. It will allow some small offices, studios and light industrial buidings to be converted without the need for change-of-use planning permission.

It is thought to be particularly helpful for the regions, where office space often remains vacant for the long-term, being effectively redundant. This is the case in cities like Newcastle, where many speculative developments in the city centre – built during the last boom – have remained vacant for years, with little prospect of securing tenants and, moreover, being located in areas where demand for city centre residential space is high.

As featured on on Guerilla Homes, innovative conversions of industrial buildings are popular in London, such as this one by KnotArchitects, on a former clothing factory.




But what about London? Here the problem is often more short-term vacancies. So could offices be converted for short term residential use? Other more wacky solutions investigated on the program Guerilla Home included garden-sheds which have been erected in empty industrial buildings, to be used as bedrooms. Why not in empty offices as well?

For more long term change of use, many former industrial buildings have been successfully converted. For example, located in Philadelphia, this condominium complex not only takes advantage of the bones of the factory buildings, but incorporates new eco-friendly features like rainwater harvesting and solar power. The same principles could easily be applied to office buildings.




And this one below is completely unrelated: an old train car turned into a Russian Orthodox churches.





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