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Offices-to-homes legislation could deliver desperately needed homes

At the same time there is a significant amount of redundant commercial property space which would be suitable for conversion to residential.

Government estimates an average vacancy rate of between seven and nine per cent and by allowing suitable redundant commercial property to be converted an additional 7,000 new homes could be brought to market – the property industry feels this is a significant underestimate and in reality a lot more could be delivered.

Responding to the close of the Government consultation on the proposals, Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF, said:

“Just about any road or rail journey out of any major town or city, including London, is dotted with examples of commercial offices which are obsolete, yet sitting within local authorities with severe housing need.

“It makes no sense to leave buildings empty for long periods on the basis that one distant day their original use may again be viable and we believe the status quo on that basis is not an option. Property owners want occupied buildings, so we should be making that as easy as possible.

“There are some legitimate concerns about relaxing policy, but planning can be relaxed while still allowing local councils to opt-out in exceptional circumstances.

"The status quo is not an option.”

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