Out of office(s) – the growing trend for accommodation conversion


The construction industry never stands still, and a key part of this thriving sector is the continued quest to source affordable living space for the UK’s expanding population. In addition to ongoing applications to gain permission for development of less urban areas, many construction firms are finding a lucrative market in the transformation of office space into domestic living areas.

According to a study by the Local Government Association, over thirty thousand office units in England have been converted into flats since 2015. It’s a move by ministers to address the very real issues of our population, while managing to bypass much of the lengthy and administratively-laborious planning process to apply for new build permissions.

While this is nothing but positive for people seeking out cost-effective homes and increasing living space to accommodate new entrants into the housing market, there is of course a negative side to this construction ploy – obviously, for every new home created from a previous office space, there is one less working environment available for the UK’s small and medium business enterprises.

Office to residential conversions impacting businesses

There is no confusion as to why switching a building’s purpose from office to residential use is favoured by construction agencies – the legislation surrounding planning permission currently falls within ‘permitted development’ – essentially, a free pass for firms to make the required transition in a building without requiring lengthy planning applications or overcoming lengthy legislation loops. However, the very ease with which the conversion can take place means that local plans to grow economies through vibrant business and enterprise are being restricted, through the growing shortage of useable working environments.

Town centre dead zones

As marketing giants such as Amazon and Ebay compromise the economies of local high street shops and traders, removing business environments in towns is simply assisting the gradual deterioration of our community spaces and town centres. More residential areas may bring greater prosperity in terms of attracting increased levels of footfall from consumers, but if the business footprint is depleted, future enterprises will be deterred from settling in, and investing in, town centre premises.

However, the Department for Housing Communities has defended their stance, stating: “We are determined to build the homes our country needs and permitted development rights play an important role in helping us deliver more properties.”

At Whitesales, we are committed to working with contractors to bring better light and air quality to homes undergoing conversion. Get in touch with us today, if you would like our friendly team to advise you while undertaking a similar project.

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