The government is planning a major increase in Permitted Development (PD) in a bid to ‘get Britain building’. But with many existing schemes being criticised for poor quality and tiny residential units which do not meet buyers’ and renters’ needs, how will developers respond to meet the government’s expectations?
Our experience at MBU Capital is that building high-quality residential units is possible under PD and can deliver excellent quality homes that people really want to buy.
The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP’s recently announced plans will see disused buildings turned into homes, increased building upwards and an increase in building on brownfield sites.
A White Paper on the proposals is expected from the government later this year. This likely increase in the supply of property for PD is welcome and may also be boosted by businesses’ response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Many companies have found that homeworking is highly effective, enabling their staff to work more efficiently.
As a result, it is likely that some employers will decide to downsize their offices and make homeworking a permanent part of their business models. They will move towards using smaller, more flexible office ‘hubs’ where colleagues can meet, replacing the traditional office where every member of staff has their own desk. This could mean that there is less demand for offices in towns and city centres – creating more opportunities for office-to-residential PD conversions.
PD has a great future, but only if developers create high-quality units that people want to buy. Developers trying to make a quick buck by throwing together poor-quality units and exploiting loopholes to subvert national space standards will quickly bring PD into further disrepute. ’Article 4 directions’ in many areas have put a stop to many possible PD conversions and the lifting of these ‘Article 4 directions’ should be considered by the Government in order to increase the number of units that could be delivered in key towns. At MBU Capital we know that high quality PD really works.
In Stevenage we have converted two run-down office buildings into desirable homes that have been snapped up by local residents, commuters and investors. Each offers high quality living space and super-fast broadband access, which enables effective home working. We also added floors to the developments to allow for a greater number of residential units. This approach is very much in line with Mr Jenrick’s proposal to introduce new PD rights for building upwards to ‘deliver bigger and better homes’.
We are also planning further developments which will design-in features to meet peoples’ need for flexible living and working space. The future for PD is bright and the number of conversion opportunities will increase under government plans. But to be successful developers will need to take a leaf out of our book and design homes that meet the highest quality standards and offer true flexibility to residents. Only that way will Robert Jenrick’s ambition to ‘deliver the homes communities need’ be met.