Planning shake-up could bring new Bath city centre community
A relaxation on the conversion of offices into flats could see the arrival of a new Bath city centre community.
Property experts in the city are welcoming the move by the Department for Communities and Local Government to shake up the national planning laws.
According to Carter Jonas’ residential partner, David Mackenzie, buildings in the centre of Bath were intended as housing.
He said: “This is great news for Bath where areas of the city originally built for housing in Georgian and Victorian times have switched to commercial use over the years. But these are becoming less favourable to modern, more open plan offices with parking that are difficult to find in Bath.”
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Philip Marshall, commercial partner and head of the Carter Jonas office, added: “There’s a surplus of poor quality office property in Bath and a shortage of good quality office premises. Developers are unlikely to create high quality new accommodation while there is an overall oversupply in the market.
“In many cases it will enable some of the fine Georgian buildings which would otherwise be neglected to be refurbished to a level that commercial occupation would fail to support.”
However, John Mulholland, director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Bath office, warned the market will dictate whether the new laws amount to any real change in the city.
He said: “We need to be realistic. Inevitably the market will identify the viable options, but it’s worth remembering that any physical changes to the buildings, likely to be necessary in most cases, will still require planning permission and any other consents that would be required in a world heritage location such as Bath.”
The Government has said the change could help boost communities creating new housing and generating construction jobs.
Local authorities, like Bath and North East Somerset Council, can apply for an exemption from the new laws but would have to prove any loss of office space would have adverse economic consequences.
A spokesman from B&NES said the council was currently considering its position but no decision had yet been taken.