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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

An architect’s guide to INDUSTRIAL CONVERSIONS

Thanks to new planning laws in England, it’s now easier to turn some industrial buildings into homes. Julian Owen explains the new rules and considers what’s needed for a successful project
The Victorians excelled at industrial buildings made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. This warehouse conversion features new windows by The Sash Window Workshop (

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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About Build It

The October edition of Build It magazine brings you a wealth of information to help make a success of your self build, renovation, extension or conversion project – including: • A 1960s property transformed into a characterful home (page 22) • 10 tips to make the most of your self-build plot (page 62) • The best glazed doors for your project (page 75) • Complete guide to building an eco home (page 81) • How to get the planners on side (page 105) … and more!