New rights to convert light industrial buildings to residential


Creating more housing remains Government’s top priority. To encourage this from 1 October 2017, a new permitted development right allows conversion of light industrial (class B1(c)) to residential (class C3) without planning permission.

To use this new permitted development right developers first need a determination on whether prior approval is required for:

  • transport and highways impacts;
  • contamination risks;
  • flooding risks;
  • whether the change of use would affect the sustainability of provision of industrial services in the area.

Like the original office to residential permitted development right, the new industrial to residential right is available for an initial three year period. Prior approval must be granted by 1 October 2020. Development must be completed within three years of the prior approval date.

The permitted development right may only be used if:

  • the building was solely used for light industrial use on 19 March 2014 (or this was its last use); and
  • the gross floorspace of the existing building does not exceed 500sqm.

The right does not apply to:

  • buildings within sites of special scientific interest;
  • listed buildings; or
  • scheduled monuments.

Local planning authorities concerned with the potential loss of industrial buildings to housing might try to limit or exclude the new rights. As with any permitted development right, care should be taken to ensure that the rights are still available and not withdrawn by the local planning authority under an Article 4 direction. This will not be an issue straight away but may arise over time if local authorities do not consider the prior approval process affords adequate protection against loss of industrial land as part of the need in some areas for a more balanced approach to housing delivery.