Boris Johnson’s pledge means relaxed rules for developers


It’s no secret that Boris Johnson has made several recent announcements, some of which outlining how the government will be supporting the economy moving forwards. One such announcement came on 29th June, detailing how Britain will “build, build, build” the UK out of the Coronavirus crisis. Said to be “the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War”, this is big news for anyone looking for a renovation project or experienced developer. Here, we explore what this means for you and how it’ll affect any future building plans.

Commercial properties can be converted into residential housing more easily

The standout detail within Boris’s announcement, for many, was that many commercial properties, including newly-vacant shops, can now be converted into residential housing more easily. This means that if you’re a developer looking for renovation opportunities, a huge amount of red tape has been lifted. Project lead times will also be reduced, as a result of having less restrictions, although the typical high standards and regulations must still be followed in a bid to maintain quality.

What types of commercial properties are included?

From shops and office blocks to warehouses and old cinemas, developers can now explore alternative and easy methods of creating new residential housing. By developing existing commercial properties, developers can build homes closer to city and town centres, which can demand a higher sale price. This also allows developers to maintain unique characteristics that once stood in the original building, leading to more beautiful homes.

In line with the new Town and Country Planning 2020 regulations, there are now additional building use classes that help developers and renovators understand the new rules. This is the legal framework which determines what a particular property may be used for. If you have a particular commercial opportunity that you’d like to discuss with Keenan Project Designs, we can help you to understand any restrictions, ideas and opportunities further. Ultimately, these new classes mean less red tape and more relaxed restrictions. These took effect from 1st September 2020. We’ve outlined these below.

Use Existing Use Class New Use Class

Financial and professional services

Food and drink

Offices, research and development, industrial processes

Clinics, health centres, creches, day nurseries

Indoor sport, recreation or fitness










E commercial,

business and service

Drinking establishments

Hot food takeaways

Live music venue, cinema, concert hall, bingo hall, dance hall




Sui generis (No assigned class)
Education, display or works of art, museum, public library or reading room, public hall or exhibition hall, for, or in connection with, public worship or

religious instruction, law court

D1 F 1 Learning and non-residential institutions
Shop selling essential goods where the premises is less than 280 sqm and no such shop within 1,000m radius

Community hall or meeting place

Outdoor sport or recreation, indoor or outdoor swimming pool or skating rink





F 2 local community

Is commercial property cheaper to buy?

Studies show that the average commercial property is slightly more expensive to buy than a residential property. That said, these figures do incorporate larger buildings with added perks, like higher ceilings and large windows that offer great natural light.

What if the building is listed?

Listed buildings will still require full planning permission and your local planning authority may require architectural drawings to support your case. Keenan Project Designs can support your entire journey, taking the hassle of seeking planning permission out of your hands.

To find out more about how Keenan Project Designs can support your next development project, get in touch. We’re accustomed to working on projects, large and small, throughout Rugby, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire, and beyond.

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