Developing an office to residential scheme? Let’s talk…

Current position

In England (apart from a few areas of agreed exemption) it has been possible since May 2013 to convert a building from being an office into residential use without needing full planning permission (NB – a prior approval notification is now likely required).

This deregulation was a policy decision taken by central government, primarily to boost the supply of housing but also to help regeneration through reuse of vacant office space.

With the Covid 19 pandemic temporarily closing many office buildings, there is now a risk that those buildings will never be occupied in the same way again as businesses evaluate how they will operate in the post pandemic world.

However, with adversity brings fresh opportunity for developers looking to breathe new life into redundant office buildings as seen in Preston and Manchester.

Key points to consider for any developer thinking of progressing an office to residential scheme


  • Does the building contain any asbestos containing materials that may attract significant removal costs?
  • Does the fabric of the building require significant upgrade? i.e. new windows, doors and roof coverings etc.
  • Does the internal fire compartmentation require significant upgrade?
  • Is the building clad with combustible materials?
  • Do the separating floors and walls require significant acoustic upgrades?
  • Is there costly redundant mechanical and electrical equipment present that may attract significant removal costs?


AG can answer all of the above questions during the building acquisition process, prepare robust budget costings and take your idea from inception to completion.

Thinking about a similar development? Let’s talk…