Office conversions could provide 100,000 affordable new homes across the UK
A new government proposal to convert vacant office blocks into residential homes has been announced by planning minister, Nick Boles, this morning.
Mr Boles wants to change the current planning laws to allow office blocks to be converted into residential stock, without seeking permission from councils.
Up to 100,000 could be created across the country as a result of successful progression of the proposal, with the potential for the creation of up to 40,000 residential suites in London alone.
The scheme aims to make it cheaper and easier for developers to convert commercial space into residential apartments and homes; addressing the lack of provision for affordable housing in the country.
Commenting on the proposal, a spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government, said: "We are currently looking to make it easier to convert empty and under-used commercial space into residential use. This will provide new homes, help regenerate urban areas and boost local town centres."
According to recent UK housing figures, 230,000 new homes are required to come to the market each year to keep up with an expanding population, with construction projects touted as a mainstay of support for the job market.
Centre for Cities, the independent research institute, released a report detailing that the actual amount of homes currently under construction is 100,000 short of the mark.
In London, the scheme is expected to be met with strong resistance by several of its local authorities – especially Westminster and The City of London – who believe it will hinder economic growth in the capital.
Commenting on London’s vacant office buildings, the head of London planning for property advisors Colliers International, Adam Pyrke said: “There are hundreds of office buildings — mostly small scale — all over London that are suitable for conversion and could add a lot of residential.
“Each one would probably only provide a handful of units, but it is incremental. The planning system has failed to provide enough housing.”
Editor of the Londonist, Matt Brown believes the scheme would cause subtle side-effects in London’s infrastructure, with altered commuter patterns, changes to parking provision, and the need for more schools, supermarkets and recreational areas in commercialised areas becoming more prevalent.