In his recent speech from the West Midlands, the Prime Minister promised to “build, build, build” in order to soften the economic impact of Covid-19. Mr Johnson committed to accelerating growth by fast-tracking £5 billion-worth of investment in infrastructure, in projects including hospital building and maintenance, affordable homes programmes, road and bridge projects, and school building.
At the same time the Prime Minister announced the most radical changes to the planning system since the Second World War, giving greater freedom for buildings and land in town centres to undergo changes of use without planning permission. So is now the time to “buy, buy, buy” to take advantage of the new regulations and get a step ahead of the market?
One of the aims of the reforms to the planning system is to create new homes from the regeneration of empty or redundant buildings. Under the proposed new rules, existing commercial property, including high street shops, could be converted into residential housing more easily, so boosting the construction industry at the same time as regenerating town centres.
Under reforms to the Use Classes Order a wide range of commercial premises will be given the flexibility to be repurposed for other uses. For example, a retail unit could be remodelled as a café or office without requiring planning permission and local authority approval. Alterations to commercial buildings will be allowed so that they can be re- used for residential property, again without the need for planning permission. Similarly, developers will be able to demolish redundant residential and commercial buildings and rebuild the sites as houses or flats without the normal planning applications. Property owners will also be allowed to build additional space above their premises using a fast-track approval process, subject to agreement with their neighbours.
Exceptions to the new flexible regulations will be buildings deemed essential to the lifeblood of communities, such as pubs, libraries and village shops. The reforms are due to come into effect by September, following changes to the law, and will be accompanied by research into the management and use of public sector land, to look at how this could be released for home building or environmental improvements.
The government says that the changes to planning laws will support the revival of our high streets and reduce pressure to build on green field land by making brownfield development easier. Developers must continue to adhere to high standards and building regulations, but will be able to operate without much unnecessary red tape.
It is often said that the best time to invest is during a recession, with low prices and the promise of better times ahead. Those with funds to spare may decide to take advantage of these government announcements by buying up suitable properties now, with a view to cashing in later when their sites are re- developed.
Bretherton Law have been serving people and businesses in Hertfordshire for over 50 years. If you are buying or selling business premises, looking to lease a new property, or subject to a rent review our experienced Commercial Property team will give you honest, professional advice. Contact Osman Dervish on 01727 869293, or use the contact form below.
For more information see: PM Build, Build, Build