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Budget 2013: Government moots retail-to-resi conversions

The government has announced plans to consult on changes to the planning system which would allow shops to be converted to homes

In the budget document which was presented to the House of Commons today (20 March),  the government has announced plans to consult on further flexibilities between use classes.

The plans could see it made easier for certain agricultural and retail buildings to be converted to housing.  

The Department for Communities and Local Government stated: ‘Measures will enable rural communities to grow by ensuring better use is made of their existing buildings. By reducing planning burdens, redundant and empty barns and other farm buildings that are no longer viable for other farming or commercial uses could be converted to homes. This will help increase rural housing for local people and promote regeneration of redundant and empty buildings.

The announcement has been welcomed by the British Property Federation (BPF). Liz Pearce, chief executive of the BPF said: ‘Retail to residential conversions could be an important step in breathing life into our high streets, and we would very much encourage a flexible approach, particularly in areas with increasingly obsolescent retail stock that is unlikely to be brought back into retail use.

‘We welcome the proposal to consult further on change of use from agricultural to residential. It’s crucial that the countryside remains a place of growth, industry and business rather than an enclave of the retired and wealthy.’

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