The government has laid out new plans to develop high streets including going ahead with turning empty offices into housing.
According to the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy derelict buildings are to be “transformed”, streets cleaned up, and “communities across the UK given the chance to own their local pubs, theatres, sports grounds and corner shops”.
Councils in England will be given the power to transform towns, taking over derelict buildings through compulsory purchase orders so they can be converted into new homes if property owners stall on regeneration plans. Councils will also be encouraged to use existing powers to convert empty offices into housing, and empty shops will be transformed into entertainment venues or thriving new businesses without the need for planning permission.
Hospitality will also be given a boost with the streamlined pavement licensing system extended for 12 months across England so more shops, cafés and restaurants can make use of outdoor areas, with an intention to make this permanent.
The plans build on “significant flexibilities already made in the planning system so that empty offices and shops can be converted into housing, and retail businesses can change use without needing planning permission”.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) made the announcement in April about how the new permitted development rights (PDR) would allow change of use from commercial, business and service uses (class E) to residential use (C3) in England from 1 August 2021.