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Disused offices to be turned into homes under new rules

Planning laws to be amended to allow developers greater freedom on brownfield sites

January 23, 2013

The Government has announced that planning laws will be relaxed so that empty offices can be converted into homes in a bid to up construction and boost the flagging economy. This reform is part of a wider push by the coalition to make life easier for developers and therefore increase the historically low numbers of new homes being built. In September 2012 the Government announced plans to allow private homes to build larger extensions without planning permission, and have moved to scrap Section 106 agreements which forced developers to build a certain number of affordable homes.

Today the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “This government is committed to getting brownfield land and empty buildings back into productive use. We are currently looking to make it easier to convert empty and under-used commercial space into residential use.”

These reforms should be welcomed as a step in the right direction. Britain is not building enough homes and innovation is required to ensure construction steps up to meet demand. However, the Government has failed to disclose how many new homes could potentially be created as a result of today’s announcement. The housing crisis in the UK is severe with the number of new homes being built each year failing to reach half the number of new households. Therefore although such policies as this one may be a step in the right direction but they must be combined with major construction projects.

To find out more about the housing crisis and the resultant slump in home ownership check out our report: The Death of a Dream