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Planning regulations to relax?

By Chris Perkins November 2011

Planning regulations to relax?

The Government is thinking of changing the laws that governs the conversion of buildings from commercial use to residential use in a bid to increase housing options. It is a move welcomed by many in the property industry, including the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), as they consider converting an existing building a cheaper option to building brand-new homes.

Chris Perkins, Senior Partner for Robinson Jackson Lewisham and Catford says he is already seeing a number of commercial units being turned into residential homes: "Lewisham Council has been quick to embrace the idea that old offices, shops and pubs can make good homes to live in - a number of commercial units sold by us have already been converted ahead of the Government's new stance.”

Chris continues: “There are a few considerations to think about before people take the plunge. It's important to buy the freehold of a commercial property so you have complete control over the project. Make sure you adhere to all planning application rules - failure to do so could be costly, set your conversion back months or even spell the end of the project altogether. Developers also need to consider the alterations needed to make the conversion habitable and safe - fireproofing, soundproofing and frontage changes. It's not always going to be cheaper to convert a commercial unit to a habitable home but there are advantages, like a central location, and you'll end up with a truly unique home."