Boles to scrap controls on offices-to-flats schemes

Aaron Morby 11 years ago
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Planning minister Nick Boles is expected to ease present planning restrictions on converting office blocks into flats in a bid to boost housing.

The Government first mooted plans to allow more commercial buildings to be converted to housing in its 2011 Budget but so far has steered away from hard proposals.

Under the new measures expected this week, developers will no longer need to go to planning and will be allowed to convert offices through permitted development rights.

The City of London has long resisted a dilution of its office assets, which it sees an essential to the prosperity of London.

Boles is understood to have accepted the City’s argument and will give the Square Mile exemption from the relaxation of planning.

As part of the minister’s move to cut planning red tape, Boles also published consultation this week to reform technical elements of the planning process.

Proposed measures include reinstating a developer’s right to challenge councils about the information necessary for an application to be valid.

He also wants to remove the obligation for councils to list reasons for granting planning permission to strip unnecessary paperwork from the application process.

The other proposal is to remove the requirement to provide design and access statements with most minor applications, where statements add little value to the design process but add significantly to the cost and complexity of preparing an application.

Boles said: “We are determined to cut away unnecessary burdens and paperwork and provide a simpler, swifter planning system for all.

“The small changes we are proposing are another step in streamlining an application process that for too long has been weighed down by the need to provide irrelevant information and detail.”

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