BUDGET 2011: Residential planning changes confirmed

Plans to make it easier for developers to get planning consent to turn commercial buildings into residential will help regenerate local communities, according to Brian Simpson, chief executive of Wirral Partnership Homes.

Simpson added: "There is a significant shortfall of affordable homes in many areas of the UK so any measures proposed to create more housing units should be welcomed. It is unlikely that we will see an increase in private sector development of affordable housing given the still-recovering market place so it makes sense to look into how existing space can be brought back into use. Aside from the obvious benefit the proposals would have on creating homes for people who need them, it could also assist in the regeneration of local communities – new homes are, I'm sure, much more appealing aesthetically than buildings left empty or even derelict.

"The proposals to reduce the red tape involved in local planning decisions and making it possible for the conversion of commercial buildings could well createopportunities in certain, more affluent areas.However, in areas of housing market stress, such as those we have in the Housing Market Renewal areas of Merseyside, obsolete shops and offices require farmore radical solutions and more major, costly, intervention is required often including whole scale clearance before any re-provision of more modern homes can be considered."

John Ogden, managing director of CBRE Manchester, said: "Whilst the proposals to redevelop empty offices for residential use may be appropriate for isolated units that are well located near existing residential areas or town centres, it clearly won't be adopted where Council's are keen to retain office floor space to meet the particular business needs of the locality. It is also still uncertain how local authorities will control the requirements of the dwelling mix and affordable housing."

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