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  6. Easier temporary change of use regime mooted

Easier temporary change of use regime mooted

Communities Minister Greg Clark has signalled that the Government is considering making it easier to encourage temporary change of use for empty buildings so they can be used as new shops, business start-ups, and community projects.

The Government is concerned that empty properties can lead to a spiral of decline, spoil high streets, and act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

Clark said it should be easier for businesses and communities to arrange “meanwhile uses” for empty buildings without having to negotiate unnecessary hurdles in the planning system.

The minister confirmed the Coalition was considering scrapping the rules requiring planning permission in order to temporarily change the use of empty buildings. This move is on the agenda as part of the wider review of the Use Class Order (UCO) system.

Clark said: "Removing bureaucratic barriers in the planning system could play a major part in encouraging meanwhile uses of empty buildings, transforming them into new shops, business start-ups and community projects."

The Government is already consulting on allowing commercial property to be changed into residential property without needing planning permission. Ministers believe this could create 70,000 homes over 10 years  

The Use Class Order review is being undertaken jointly by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The outcome will be announced later this year. Any proposals for changes to legislation will then be subject to formal public consultation.

Read the Department for Communities and Local Government news release.


Roger Milne

30 June 2011