Wednesday23 August 2017

Architects welcome relaxation of use classes

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Say further changes to planning system are needed

Architects have given a broad welcome to government plans to relax rules on turning office buildings into residential.

The news is widely expected to have been announced this week by planning minister Nick Boles and will mean architects will be able to carry out work without having to get planning.

Ministers consulted on the plans in 2011 and the move was supported by a number of ex-RIBA presidents, led by Marco Goldschmied, as well as other architects and developers including Roger Zogolovitch.

Marco Goldschmied

Marco Goldschmied

Goldschmied said: “This is wonderful news for architects and for the housing market.”

But he said the news should lead to further changes in the planning system. “What would be marvellous is if this was the first step to abolishing the rigidity of use classes so we can build long-life buildings that can change uses over a hundred years.”

And AHMM associate director Philip Turner added: “We should ensure all new developments are as generous and flexible as possible. Planners, architects and clients need to collaborate to agree loose-fit briefs and reduce the constant turnover of buildings.”

The City of London objected to the move and is expected to be exempt from the new rules. Its chief planning officer, Peter Rees, told BD: “Blocks of ‘resident-lite’ apartments are replacing the employment space of the capital and it is good to know the City will retain the planning tools necessary to stem this danger.” The RIBA also opposed the move but declined to comment.

Under the proposals, planning permission will not be needed for changes of use from classes B1, B2 and B8 (business, general industrial and storage) to class C3 (residential).


Readers' comments (5)

  • More people living in the square mile, voting and generally disturbing the balance of power....oh no that won't do. But of course an exemption can always be negotiated for the City, can't it?

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  • Why did the RIBA oppose the move?

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  • Andrea Klettner

    Hi Jonathan,

    See this story for the RIBA's response to the plans in 2011



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  • Thanks Andrea, very interesting

    This proposal will avoid the need for Unilateral Undertakings and Affordable Housing - this will certainly make some schemes which are not currently economically viable happen - and so I very much support it, anyhting that can be done to free up the system is good. This once again points up the problems being cuased by excessive off-site tax preventing development

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  • Great idea to reduce the extent of the planners stranglehold on development and economic activity.

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