Estates Gazette has reported this week coalition government officials have asked the property industry their views on the possibility of allowing change of use from B1 to C3 to be allowed as permitted development. It would mean a planning application would not be required for the conversion of office or light industrial space to residential use.
Presumably there would need to be some rules. If we take the Gherkin as an example - it was sold for "in excess of £600 million" at the peak of the market in early 2007. That works out at just over £1,300 per sq ft of net office space. If that could be changed to residential I'd hazard a guess it'd be worth more. It'd be quite an architectural challenge though.
I think the short answer is if it means empty offices that are no longer fit for purpose are swiftly bought into use to provide homes then great, if it means landlords are tempted to end/not renew commercial leases to turn a fast buck in converting useful employment generating space to a swanky pad for somebody then possibly not so great.
Could mean empty office or light industrial units suddenly become a much more attractive proposition for those prepared to take a punt. It's a tricky risk to quantify though.