01 February 2013

Will changes to planning law affect office space availability?

A relaxation of planning laws set to be introduced in the spring could threaten the availability of office space, as city centre living becomes in vogue, property experts are suggesting.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently announced new permits to allow office buildings to be converted into residential buildings without planning permission. Although the new legislation has been welcomed in some parts, other constituencies have moved to be exempt from the new ruling over concerns it could affect residential valuations.

Mixed opinions to the relaxed planning

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has long been apposed to the plans, saying the creation of such rights would undermine London as the world’s leading financial centre.

In a statement, the Corporation’s city planning officer Peter Rees said: “The City of London has made no secret of our concern about the impact of the proposed change to planning rules upon our role as a world business centre.

“Property consultants estimate that 20% of the office floor space in the Square Mile would be in immediate danger of conversion to flats if we do not achieve an exemption from the rule change.”

Other cities, however, have welcomed the news, saying that a move back to residential dwellings would allow for proper treatment of Georgian and Victorian buildings. Bath, for example, would benefit from turning some of its older buildings back into residential properties as the new builds get occupied by businesses.

Will it have any impact?

John Mulholland, director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Bath office, told South West Business that ultimately, the market will dictate whether the new laws amount to any real change in the city, adding that any physical changes to buildings will still need planning permission in most cases.

Do you think the planning law changes will have a significant impact on the availability of business workspace?