Christchurch change of use office to residential conversion approvedChristchurch Borough Council: Pure Town Planning are proud to announce that we have just secured permission for another Prior Approval – office (B1) to residential (C3) permitted development consent. The consent saw the transformation of redundant upper floor offices into 20 residential apartments (a mix of 1 and 2 bedroom flats) in a large building in the heart of Christchurch town centre. In this specific case there were clear financial advantages to using the permitted development right – for example a saving of almost £8,000 on Christchurch Borough Council’s application fee, over £60,000 on payable contributions, as well as just short of £475,000 saved on affordable housing!

The conversion scheme, which was designed by Anders Roberts Cheer 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.

So far the take-up seems to have been relatively slow. Things are beginning to pick up as landowners spot the opportunities and perhaps leases come to an end. Some of our more avid followers may remember that earlier this year we reported that we secured Prior Approval consent for the largest office (B1) to residential (C3) permitted development consent in Bournemouth. That consent saw the transformation of a redundant 7-storey office building in the Lansdowne area into 191 residential studio units (see that story here…).

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!