Converting an unoccupied commercial property into a residential home

There are many great opportunities to be had when it comes to purchasing an unoccupied property. It could be that potential buyers are after a real fixer-upper that’s under budget, or the property could be used as a potential holiday home or rental. But how about a commercial unoccupied property being transformed into a residential property?

With a high demand for homes across the United Kingdom, the government in England recently passed amended legislation (2015 General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) that came into effect on August 1st 2021, that could speed up and make easier the processes by which commercial properties can be converted into residential properties.

This new legislation will hopefully provide the opportunity for local councils to regenerate areas that may have several unused commercial properties that no longer serve the community, while also providing much needed housing.

However, converting an unoccupied commercial property is not always a simple process, and much research and careful planning should be done before any building work begins. Familiarising yourself with the legalities of property conversion is recommended, especially since the recent legislation amends.

Secondly, planning permission may be required for your unoccupied commercial property before any renovations or building work can be carried out. If any building work has started on your unoccupied commercial property before a permit has been granted by your local authority, you could be forced to remove any unpermitted work.

There can also be restrictions in place that can prevent you from developing your commercial property into a residential property, including:

  • If development of the commercial property could have an environmental impact
  • If the commercial property is a listed building or a scheduled monument
  • If the commercial property is located close to a hazardous site such as a safety hazard area or a military explosives area

Understanding the financial responsibilities of converting a commercial property into a residential property is also important, as the process from start to finish, can be very time consuming and costly. Solicitors’ fees, taxes, permits, building materials etc., are just a few of the examples that should be taken into consideration.

With the new legislation amendments, owners of unoccupied commercial properties who wish to develop them into residential homes should find the approval process quicker and easier to navigate. Local authorities only have to consider a smaller number of variants when potentially issuing a permit, such as adequate lighting, space of the home, potential for flooding, and impact on local amenities, as opposed to the much stricter variants beforehand.

Views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of Guardcover Unoccupied Property.