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Relaxation of planning rules allow commercial buildings to be converted into housing

New planning rules will help support the conversion of commercial buildings into homes. In turn, this will benefit highstreets by removing unused buildings and eyesores and will allow for efficient use of brown field land.

The package comes at a good time as we surface from the pandemic by providing encouragement for high streets to adapt and thrive in the future.

By allowing unused commercial buildings to be converted into homes it will increase desire for people to live near local high streets and come to the area for work and leisure.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick stated: “We are creating the most small-business friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from the pandemic.”

The new homes will be delivered through a simpler ‘prior approval’ process instead of a full planning application. They will be subject to meeting high standards, ensuring they provide adequate natural light and meet space needs.

Before commercial buildings can be converted into housing, they will need to have been vacant for three months. A size limit of 1,500 square will also apply.

In addition, the new rules provide a fast track for extending public service buildings. This granting permission for bigger extensions to existing public buildings, universities, colleges, and hospitals.

Currently public buildings are able to have small extensions without the need for full planning application. Now, under the new rules, they can extend further and faster with a more direct planning process.

This announcement is a great step towards the revitalisation and development of deprived areas and buildings. It will provide much-needed homes across England and contribute to rejuvenating high streets and town centres.

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