More than 2,250 notifications are reported to have been submitted to Councils in England for conversions of offices to residential. This may have prompted the High Court challenge by a consortium of London Councils to the process of granting exemptions which has been rejected.
The temporary extension of permitted development rights introduced on 30 May 2013 had been estimated by the Government would promote 140 office-to-residential conversions per year for the whole Country however, developer notifications exceeding 2,250 in the first six months will be regarded by many as a measure of unprecedented success. Nevertheless, the scale of conversion is attracting some expressions of concern in the loss of available offices in a recovering economy, and the fact that these proposals will not be contributing to affordable housing or infrastructure.
The fact that one London Borough (Richmond) will exceed the Government’s national estimate, may explain the legal challenge to the process by which Council’s are required to apply for the grant of exemptions from the Government’s policy. Whilst the High Court expressed some reservations regarding the procedure, it decided that it was not so unfair as to be unlawful. In the light of the High Court decision, the Government will not apparently be required to review the permitted development rights legislation or the granting of exemptions.