An architect’s guide to industrial conversions

The Victorians excelled at industrial buildings made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. This warehouse conversion features new windows by The Sash Window Workshop (www.sashwindow.com)

From October this year it will be possible to convert some industrial buildings (in England) into homes without having to submit a planning application. The legislation behind this comes as politicians are desperate to create more new housing and have passed the law after the success of an earlier relaxation allowing the conversion of offices into dwellings. This latest addition to permitted development (PD) rights will save time and money, plus reduce the stress that can result from seeking planning approval.

However, applying the new rules is not as simple as it first appears. The building being converted will have to be designated as having a light industrial use, which is less welldefined than office use. The existing property must play host to an industrial process that does not generate excessive noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke or other type of pollution. Assuming the planners agree that a building fits this definition, an application for prior approval has to be made, in lieu of full planning. In many ways this process is not dissimilar to making a formal application (although the fee will probably be £80; much lower than the £385 needed for a full submission). The council consults neighbours and decides whether there will be any detrimental impact on the surrounding area, but they have to put a very robust case for a rejection. See the box, opposite, for greater detail on the new rules.

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Build It
Oct 2017

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