Responding to reports today that the policy was to be watered down, the BPF underlined its support for greater flexibility in the planning system whether it is brought about in secondary legislation or through the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
The BPF has endorsed both approaches, believing that there are pros and cons to each. However, it stated that prolonging the current situation – where vacant commercial premises are unable to be easily converted to play their part in addressing the nation’s housing crisis – would be unacceptable.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “What is crucial is that we have a proactive regime in place for considering and allowing change of use that does not seek to simply maintain the status quo.
“The country is dotted with examples of commercial offices which are obsolete yet are sitting within local authorities with severe housing need, so whether the government implements the changes through legislation or policy is in a sense a secondary issue.
“The policy route would be perhaps a less forceful method of expressing the intention of Government, but equally it is important that what emerges is something that is workable for local authorities with genuine concerns over the loss of office space.”