Planning minister Nick Boles today announced change of use proposals which would allow empty shops to be converted into homes without planning permission. The recommendations being published for consultation would allow local people to transform agricultural buildings or empty premises that are not in prime retail locations into much-needed homes, nurseries and free schools.

Anthony Aitken, Head of Planning, Colliers International, said, “We welcome the Government’s continued efforts to relax the current planning legislation restrictions. In an age when redundant secondary retail stock adds to high vacancy rates in our towns and cities, with substantial proportions having a slim to remote prospect of being occupied for retail purposes at any point in the near future, coupled with record low levels of housing completions, it makes ‘planning’ sense to fast track the regeneration potential of conversion from retail to residential use. This will allow all interested groups from Council’s, investors, community bodies, tenants, to focus their collective efforts on a town or cities retail core for future investment.

“The Government announcement also acts as a useful counter balance (the redevelopment of brownfield land/sites) to the arguments currently being extolled that the NPPF favours greenfield development. We believe that both forms of development are required to allow our town and cities to grow and prosper in a sustainable manner.”