Two years since the introduction of permitted development rights (PDR), aimed at making it quicker and easier to convert light industrial units (class B1[C]) of less than 500 sq m (5,382 sq ft) into residential units (class C3), the scheme has not had anywhere near the take-up the Government was hoping for.

Applications have been slow coming in. A high proportion of those have been turned down as unsuitable and, in the process, some well-publicised horror stories have emerged of sheds crammed with uninhabitable, windowless flats by unscrupulous developers.

Alex Ground features in Property Week magazine to give her opinion on their lack of popularity, putting it down to the cost-to-return ratio on carrying out the works being slow. 

She states, "The difference is that office conversions tend to be more cosmetic than structural. But sometimes, with light industrial and storage to resi, you'd have to conclude a lot of structural changes to make it suitable for residential accommodation," she explains. "PDR doesn't allow you to do any external changes."

She goes on to suggest that the introduction of quality control to light-industrial- to-resi PDR could increase its popularity, "Most of the complaints centre around the quality, not the fact they have circumvented the affordable
housing requirements," she says. "They could just add higher requirements on the quality without doing away with the whole premise of this to drive up the housing stock."

Alex is a partner in our real estate team. She advises on all aspects of planning, highways and compulsory purchase including planning applications, appeals, negotiating s106 agreements, challenges and enforcement.