Permitted development

In the 80s, the UK built millions of square feet of offices. At the time, Jason, who is now a director of his own practice, was part of that process working for other practices.  When 2008 came along and the global financial crisis crashed, a considerable number of offices across the UK became redundant and derelict. All the while, the production of new homes stagnated, despite there being a continuous demand for residential properties for an ever-growing population.  It is from this backdrop that the UK government were instrumental in introducing PD for the conversion of offices to residential apartments.

The introduction of permitted development (PD) rights in 2015 saw new legislation surrounding the planning permission system. The amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act grant automatic permission to convert B1 offices into residential apartments so long as the offices have been established since 2012.

With the exceptions of areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks and some other areas, the legislation allows office buildings to be converted into residential dwellings using PD rights. With the UK housing shortage remaining a concern, we consider whether permitted development could be part of the solution.

The concern

A shortage of affordable housing has led to many, particularly the young, struggling to get onto the property ladder. High demand has seen prices rise, removing homeownership from the reach of many, who’re unable to raise the necessary deposits. The growing UK population is putting an ever-increasing strain on the housing market. Increasing divorce rates and longer life expectancies are seeing divorced or widowed adults wishing to live alone, rather than the traditional family home setups, further increasing demand.

Homelessness has risen by 169% in England since 2010. Rising rent costs have left many with few options, and councils are struggling to house rough sleepers. The Government has displayed its seriousness surrounding the issue, with the 2017 budget promising 300 000 new homes.

Part of the solution?

Here at JDW, we believe that PD can help to relieve the stretched housing market. PD rights allow developers to produce new homes across a wide spectrum far more quickly than in typical circumstances. The purchasing and surveying of land, planning application, decision process and build can take a significant amount of time. Conversions carried out under PD rights take place over a much shorter time period as the planning application process is removed. The build time is also greatly reduced, as the basis of the structure already exists.

JDW’s residential development in Dorking, Surrey, produced 71 homes and was carried out under permitted development rights. Previously a 1970s office block, we transformed the building into residential apartments. We modified the exterior, adding brick slips and panelling to create a more up to date aesthetic, benefitting both residents and the local community. The development was completed in just 18 months, significantly faster than traditional developments.

JDW has helped to deliver over 3000 apartments since its inception and continues to assist developers and contractors in delivering more.  The whole process has had a huge positive effect on the housing market and a much-needed shot in the arm for architects, designers, clients, contractors, suppliers and of course potential new homeowners.  


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