Bracken House prior notice change of use office to residential BournemouthBournemouth Borough Council: Pure Town Planning are proud to announce that we have just secured a Prior Approval consent for the largest office (B1) to residential (C3) permitted development consent in Bournemouth. The consent is for the transformation of a redundant 7-storey office building in the Lansdowne area into 191 residential studio units. We actually believe it could be the largest number of residential units achieved under the prior approval process in England – a fantastic achievement for the growing Pure Town Planning team.

The conversion scheme, which was designed by Bennington Green, takes advantage of probably the most significant of the new permitted development rights which were introduced on 30th May 2013 (read our Briefing Note here). The new right applies to the whole of England except a number of excluded areas – these are largely in London but (randomly) include a number of areas in East Hampshire District but no other parts of Dorset or Hampshire are affected. This PD right only applies until 30 May 2016 and the other limitations are that the building has to have been last in use for Use Class B1(a) (offices) and is not a listed building or scheduled monument.

The right only applies to a change of use so does not grant consent for any operational development which may be necessary i.e. any physical works which change the external appearance of the building such as changes to windows or doors. However if any external alterations are required to make the development more appealing or usable then these can simply be applied for in the usual way once the residential use has been confirmed.

The advantages of this procedure against applying in the normal way are numerous – the  Council are only able consider the implications for flood risk, contamination or highway safety, the Council’s application fee was only £80 (instead of £73,535 for 191 units) the process only takes 56 days instead of 13 weeks, there was no ‘open space’ or ‘transport’ contributions payable (a saving of over £500,000 in this case) and crucially no affordable housing contribution whatsoever (a whopping saving of £1,123,462!). Finally, this building is located in an area where the Council’s current planning policies restrict new residential development in order to protect the area’s employment function (even though there are vast amounts of vacant office space) so this change of use would not have been allowed were it not for the permitted development right!

If you have a building in B1 office use (or vacant and last used as B1 office) and would like confidential advice on whether this permitted development right could apply to your building then please do call Matt, Dan or Neil on 01202 585524 or email But be quick, time is running out – any conversion must take place before May 2016!