The most radical planning system reforms since the end of the Second World War have been announced by the UK government in 2020, with new regulations introduced to give more freedom for converting empty commercial properties into residential homes.

The new rules will allow vacant commercial properties in desirable city centre locations to be converted into residential housing without requiring planning permission. In this way, new homes can be developed, and redundant or vacant buildings can be regenerated.

As a Director of Xavier Investments Limited, Zuneth Sattar has a keen interest in the regeneration of commercial properties and the development of commercial buildings. The new planning system reforms will allow for a wide range of previously empty commercial buildings to be regenerated into desirable homes and residences.

Making the Most of Empty Spaces

The radical reforms that have just been announced will help people all over the UK to make the most of empty spaces. The financial instability of the commercial property market in recent years has left hundreds of thousands of properties across the country standing empty, some for years at a time.

These changes, which will come into effect in September 2020, will allow for the repurposing of many of these empty spaces and even the demolishing and rebuilding off derelict buildings, so long as the new builds are residential.

Change of use will be allowed without the requirement to apply for planning permission if a commercial building is to be designated instead for residential homes, and commercial premises will be granted far more flexibility for a change of purpose, such as converting a retail space into an office or food outlet without requiring approval from local authorities or planning permission.

Regenerating High Streets

A study on property trends conducted by BuyAssociation, an international investment consultancy, suggests that Britain’s high streets are also about to undergo significant regeneration through investment.

Developers and investors have begun working in collaboration in many areas to refurbish and repurpose high street shops that have been standing empty after being abandoned by local retailers.

Investor-backed renovations are on the rise in many prime shopping locations across the UK. Many of these regenerations will involve converting commercial buildings into residential flats and apartments to help meet the housing demand.

The Benefits of Conversion

There are many benefits to converting existing properties from commercial to residential use. The builds are generally cheaper as all the infrastructure is already in place. Construction times can be reduced compared to new builds and price points can often be lower, while demand for properties in prime city centre and town centre locations is always strong.

Similar developments have experienced much success, with conversion developments in prime locations selling out fast.

Claire Preece