New rules allowing commercial premises to be converted into homes come into force today, as part of a package of government measures to revitalise England’s high streets and town centres.
The new rules, announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, will help support more home building and help give high streets a new lease of life – removing eyesores, transforming unused buildings and making the most of brownfield land.
Today’s package also introduces a new fast track for extending public service buildings. New rules allow for bigger extensions to existing public buildings including schools, colleges, universities and hospitals.
Allowing unused commercial buildings to be changed into homes will encourage more people to live near local high streets, the government hopes, and come to the area for work and leisure.
The new homes will be delivered through a simpler ‘prior approval’ process instead of a full planning application.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “We are creating the most small business friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from the pandemic.
“By diversifying our town and city centres and encouraging the conversion of unused shops into cafes, restaurants or even new homes, we can help the high street to adapt and thrive for the future.”
The public also want improvements to public services as quickly as possible and so these changes will also help schools and hospitals to adapt quickly to changing needs with a new fast track for extending public service buildings. This will help deliver more classrooms and hospital space by helping them extend further and faster.