Responding to Planning magazine's survey of local authrorities, intended to gauge the take-up of the new permitted development rights, Mike Kiely, President of POS, said that the Society's members considered the new PD rights to be "rather a blunt instrument" and expressed concern about the high number of occupied offices that are being targeted.
Kiely added "if the lease is up for renewal and the owner believes they could get a better return with residential use, they're likely to convert. And this is borne out by the survey's findings."
46 LPAs responded to Planning's on-line survey reporting a total of 262 applications to convert offices to homes under the new PD rights.
As well as economic impact, another worry is the quality of conversions; Kiely admitted this was his main concern. He warned that poor-quality conversions can affect the local economy by deterring other potential investors and that planners will have little control over the process; "it's in the lap of the gods" he said.
Processing the prior approval applications involves a not insubstantial amount of work, POS has already warned - see earlier media release.
Kiely said "We are having submissions that would've been planning applications. We are probably not spending the same time on them as we would on a planning application, but it's a significant amount."