a structural engineer

Commercial to Residential Use *


Commercial properties, be they small shops or large office blocks, can often be converted to residential properties. If you’re the owner of a commercial property looking to turn it into a home, here’s what you need to think about.



Planning permission

Find out from the council where the property is located if you need planning permission. The council’s Local Planning Authority (LPA) will deal with planning applications – you will be applying for change of use.

Some commercial properties come under Permitted Development Rights (PDR). If this is the case, you might not need full planning permission, but it will depend on ‘use of class’.

Use of class and PDR

The use of class category for a residential property is C3. Currently, if yours is a light industrial property (B1c), PDR legislation allows you to convert to C3 without full planning permission, but you will need to check if this is still the case after October 2020. Retail premises classed as A1 or A2, if less than 150m2, can also be converted to C3 without full planning permission.

Whether or not you require planning permission for change of use, you will certainly need approval from the local authority where the property is located.

Listed issues

A listed property is one that is on National Heritage’s register of protected buildings and sites in England. Therefore, stringent controls apply over alterations and change of use. Such controls may apply to any structures outside the main building, such as garden walls.

A full planning permission application has to be submitted with, quite possibly, a request for detailed architectural drawings. Check with your LPA to see  if your commercial property is in a conservation area. If it is, then it’s possible that you will need to follow the same planning processes as those for listed properties.

* Make sure you check your local council guidelines for changes in permission.

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