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UK’s 'first' planning-free office-to-residential scheme revealed

Oldham-based Whittaker Design claims to have mooted the UK’s first offices-to-residential conversion using new permitted development rights

The prior approval application for the scheme in Oldham is thought to be the first under new rules allowing change of use from B1 to C3 without planning permission.

Whittaker Design’s client, First Choice Investments, instructed the outfit to refrain from submitting a planning application and instead make use of the new rights which came into force on 30 May and last for three years.

The studio’s ‘application for prior approval’ for change of use of a redundant office building (pictured) in the Derker area of the town, was registered on 17 June.

The building is a former gatehouse to the now-demolished Prince of Wales Mill. The site is currently occupied by modern industrial units.

Alan Doherty of Whittaker Design, said: ‘The location and ease of the conversion to apartments presented an ideal opportunity to test the recently introduced Permitted Development Rights using a prior approval application.’

The council must now decide whether or not to accept the change of use. If refused, Whittaker Design would need to submit a full application.

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