Homes hope for disused Bracknell offices
Published: 20 Oct 2013 09:300 comments
The change in national planning laws has made it easier for developers to change building use from ‘office’ to ‘residential’.
Previously, a full planning application would have to be submitted, possibly taking months to be decided.
However, the new system, introduced in May this year, slashes the time and paperwork, opening the door for 1.4m sq ft of office space in Bracknell to be put to good use.
Cllr Chris Turrell, Bracknell Forest Coun-cil’s newly appointed executive member for planning and transport, thinks the new laws will allow office space that has been empty for years to be turned into valuable housing.
“Some of these office blocks have been empty for a long time so it is a real incentive for us to do something with them,” he said.
“However, we do not want so much housing that it would compromise the employment space available.
“It is an important step and an important move.”
Mr Turrell added the council had received a few applications from developers to convert office space, and hopes this will encourage more developers to do the same.
“We hope that the two or three applications we’ve had so far to convert offices into housing will encourage more owners of office blocks to come forward, too.
“At the end of the day we need to make sure that we strike the right balance between office space and housing.”
Work has already been started by developer Campmoss Property to convert the upper floors of Gowring House in Market Street into 18 new properties, while two empty buildings in London Road, Apex House and Hayley House, could be turned into 64 apartments.
In a smaller plan, the council has permitted an application for 4 Milbanke Court in Bracknell to be converted from offices to a two-bedroom apartment and a one-bedroom penthouse.
For changes up to 150 sq m, owners must notify the local council of the plans, while for changes between 150 sq m and 500 sq m a prior notification process applies.
Before gaining approval, developers must show there will not be a detrimental impact on traffic or any contamination or flood risk at the site.