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This image may be subject to copyrightThe Prime Minister is expediting radical reforms to the planning system, permitting town centre vacant buildings to be converted to housing.

These changes are aimed at a more efficient approach to correctly reflect the changes in society over the past seventy years and the Government will launch a planning Policy Paper this month to set out the positive changes to England’s antiquated planning system.

Due to come into force in the autumn, these changes will allow a wider range of commercial buildings to convert to residential use without the need for a planning application. Construction companies will no longer need an application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes. Existing commercial properties, including vacant shops on the high street, will also more easily be converted.

Other commercial premises will be able to be repurposed without planning.  For example, a building used for retail could be permanently changed to use as a café or office without requiring a planning application and local authority approval.

However, buildings deemed to be essential to the lifeblood of communities will not be covered by these flexibilities such as pubs, libraries, village shops etc.

Under the reforms, property owners would also be able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation.

Boris said the changes to the law, would be beneficial twofold:  It would support the high street revival by allowing empty commercial properties to be quickly adapted, as well as taking the pressure off greenfield land, by making brownfield development easier.

Developers will still need to adhere to high standards and regulations, just without the unnecessary red tape.

Mark Cook, MD of MC Plan and Site Services Ltd, said: “We’re delighted with this decision to give the construction industry the boost it needs.  As the Government have said, high standards will still be required and therefore Building Regulations have never been more important.”

MC Plan & Site Services Ltd is a fully insured, award-winning Independent Corporate Approved Inspector, licenced and regulated by the Construction Industry Council (“CIC”) to carry out building control throughout England and Wales.

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