Boost for developers

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A Truro-based planning lawyer has welcomed the Government’s newly-announced proposals to allow developers to change the use of a building from office to residential use without the need for full planning permission.

Chris Tofts
Chris Tofts

The proposed changes, which are due to come into force in this spring, will allow developers to make an application to their local authority for prior approval before the work to change a building’s use from office to residential use takes place. The relaxation in planning rules will last for three years.

Chris Tofts, specialist planning lawyer with Stephens Scown in Truro, said: “From a Cornish view point, this is good news for those with empty offices who currently face paying business rates with no income from the property.

“The community will benefit with underused buildings coming back into use, creating housing where it is needed and breathing life back into empty areas. There is also a great opportunity for developers to benefit. In many cases it will make it much cheaper, faster and easier for developers to convert office buildings into new homes. That has to be good news for our economy.”

There will be some restrictions, including where the local authority thinks there is likely to be a significant impact on transport or if the development is in an area of high flood risk or other hazards.