When is change of use too much change?

The ever increasing pressure for housing supply has seen a marked increase in change of use applications for conversion of office blocks to multiple apartments. However, care must be taken by commercial conveyancers and their clients on the setting and suitability of their proposals. Paul Addison from DevAssist says: “There is a clear need to understand the issues before the costs start to mount”.

Case study – Hampshire

We saw a recent example of this in Hampshire, which was recently lost on appeal. It concerned plans to redevelop three office buildings, within a conservation area, as 24 flats. While the number of flats proposed was not out of the ordinary, the impact of the scheme on its surroundings was considered to be a problem.

The removal of a number of trees to accommodate car parking and the planned scale of development on a part rural, part brownfield plot would make it considerably more visible than the existing buildings, giving the site an urban appearance. This would occur in part of the conservation area where there was little built development and it would not contribute to the character of the locality.

The site was also designated as having a significant flood risk and alternatives had not been assessed in response to this. Indeed, the removal of trees could lead to potential harm to biodiversity given the proximity to a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Furthermore, the design failed to reflect the architecture of the village which was built in the simple Arts and Crafts style fashionable between 1880 and 1910.

Understanding the context is at the heart of a successful planning application. STL is delighted to offer commercial conveyancers the DevAcquire report, which ensures your client understands the opportunities or restrictions that could impact on their potential investment.

The report scans up to 75 million beyond the full perimeter for sites up to 50 acres. It assesses land use zoning restrictions or past activity, permissions or refusals that signpost sensitivity for commercial development and also includes change of use. Knowing up front, allows your client to review the risk and/or the reward on the asset.

For more information on DevAcquire or any of the other interpreted planning and development risk reports from DevAssist, call us on 0800 318611 or email [email protected].

This article was submitted to be published by STL Group Limited as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

Today's Conveyancer