Guildford High Street
Image Source: Matt Brown
Chloe Shakesby

New rules introduced to support conversion of high street buildings into homes

The government has announced that it is introducing new rules that will allow commercial premises to be converted into homes.

The new rules, which come into effect today (31 March), will see unused commercial buildings transformed into homes as part of a package to “revitalise” high streets and town centres.

The homes will be delivered through a ‘prior approval’ process instead of a full planning application.

The government has said that by creating more spaces for people to live near town centres, the package will reestablish high streets as the “heart of communities”.

The package also includes a new fast track for extending public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

Robert Jenrick, communities secretary, commented: “We are creating the most small business friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from the pandemic.

“By diversifying our town and city centres and encouraging the conversion of unused shops into cafes, restaurants or even new homes, we can help the high street to adapt and thrive for the future.

“The public also want improvements to public services as quickly as possible and so these changes will also help schools and hospitals to adapt quickly to changing needs with a new fast track for extending public service buildings.

“This will help deliver more classrooms and hospital space by helping them extend further and faster.”

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