hobbs-parkerThe latest planning changes look set to offer opportunities for the owners and developers of light industrial buildings, although they also bring some uncertainty for tenants, according to experts at Ashford-based Hobbs Parker Property Consultants.

In the drive to increase the rate of residential house building, the government is bringing in changes from 1 October 2017, which will allow owners of light industrial buildings, classified as B1c, to apply to convert them to residential dwellings.

B1c buildings are those classified for light industrial use, which don’t generate ‘noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit’, and are therefore compatible with operating in residential areas.

The new Permitted Development Rights (PDR) legislation is for buildings with a floorspace of less than 500m2 and also allows residential development on land within their curtilage.

Steve Davies, Senior Planning Manager at Hobbs Parker Property Consultants, said: “This is good news for the property’s owners, especially if they are looking to retire or move to new premises, as the value will be higher if approved for residential, rather than light industrial, development.

“However for business tenants, the challenge will inevitably be finding a new home that still enables them to successfully trade and retain their customers and staff.”

Sam Snart, Managing Director of Hobbs Parker Property Consultants, said: “The challenge for local authorities will be bringing forward new sites for light industrial use to support those businesses who may be displaced by the planning changes.

“Good modern commercial property, especially for small businesses, is at a premium at the moment and this presents an opportunity for developers to bring forward schemes to help meet the need, and support local economies.”

Local authorities will retain a degree of planning control over the process and must consider whether further details are required for approval in terms of transport, contamination and flooding, and importantly whether the new residential dwelling would harm other business, general industry or any distribution and warehousing companies in the area before the proposal can proceed.

Owners have until the 30 September 2020 to lodge an application for a building that was in proven lawful light industrial use on 19 March 2014, or if vacant, has last been used for light industrial purposes.

Hobbs Parker Property Consultants is able to advise on PDR applications as well as residential development opportunities across Kent, and can be contacted via: or 01233 506201.


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