The Chairman of the Institute of Directors in the East of England, Chris Parkhouse, has said that he thinks making it easier to convert business premises into a property for residential use will help the current economy.
He indicates there is a severe housing shortage throughout Cambridgeshire and this is pushing housing costs to extreme levels that are unaffordable for home-buyers. It is considered that a lot of unsuitable office space in Cambridgeshire is left vacant and could be used better as accommodation.
It may prove that conversion of office space to residential use may also give the construction industry a much needed boost too. Mr Parkhouse recommends the government go one further and allow other types of Commercial Property in Cambridgeshire such as shops and warehouses to be easily changed other forms of accommodation.
Ultimately there still needs to be an element of planning control as it would be difficult to justify a blanket policy of change of use without consent but there are obvious examples where planning could be relaxed or made easier to implement. A good example of this is Garrick House, High Street Fletton Peterborough where Barker Storey Mathews are marketing a detached two storey former office building which sits in the middle of a residential area. The offices benefit from a dedicated off street parking area for around 40-50 cars and this would prove more than enough space if the office building was to be converted to residential use, flats or bedsits as an example.