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Commercial unit converting to flats

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Gazman16, 11 Aug 2018.

  1. Gazman16

    Gazman16

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    Hello guys.

    I'm in the process of buying a building currently offices with planning permission (prior approval given) to convert to 3 flats. I will no dought have several questions along the way.

    I have bought and flipped 7 houses but never converted a commercial unit to residential before, All needs to be done to newbuild regs I do believe.

    These plans come with it but I will be making changes, Mainly doing away with the communal area and having 3 separate entrances.
    Untitled1.jpg
    I will be getting an architect to move things around a bit and submit building regs plans but obviously I don't want to throw any money at it until its officially mine (hopefully about 3-4 weeks).

    My main questions for the moment are the external walls.
    Question 1
    Flat 3
    Back wall (flat 3 only) will be rebuilt to modern regs for new door opening. The front wall I'm pretty sure is cavity but don't know if there is any insulation.
    The tapered part of the wall is brick external with thermalite internal (no cavity I believe) then studded off approx 60mm with 10mm polystyrene backed plasterboard.
    The straight part of the same wall is the same minus the thermilites.
    I cant tell if there is insulation between the studding.
    Do you think I would be able to leave that wall as it is and just go a bit extra on ceiling/roof insulation? (its already a warm flat roof with plenty of ceiling space).

    Question 2
    Flats 1&2
    The wall adjoining the next door unit.
    This is a block wall (thickness unknown) and again studded off approx 60mm and plaster-boarded. I expect I will need to strip the wall back to block to run all new electrics and plumbing anyway.
    Any ideas how much insulation, Soundproofing, Fire proofing I will need to put back given that its an adjoining industrial/commercial unit?

    I would also welcome any other tips and tricks for anything else you may like to add
     
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  3. napoleondynamite

    napoleondynamite

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    From a Planning point of view:

    If it is a prior approval, and they submitted the detailed floorplans and they were approved, it is a legal requirement that you build out in strict accordance with them. If you want to amend the layout I would contact the council; minor changes can probably be agreed by submitting new plans and getting written agreement. More fundamental changes could require a new application. This needs to be done prior to the commencement of works if you want to keep everything in good order from a legal perspective.

    There may be conditions on the prior approval with additional requirements, requiring further details etc prior to commencement so worth checking this also.
     
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  4. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    I don't completely agree with napoleondynamite's assessment. The Change of Use is not concerned with the internal configuration of the apartments, so there's no sense in which the layout is 'approved'. If the description on the Notice says something like 'Use of building as X two bedroom and Y one bedroom flats' then I suppose you may be bound by this requirement, but beyond that, I can see no reason not to change the internal configuration as you please. I wasn't aware that conditions precedent could be attached to a prior approval. Is that a thing?

    The formation of new external doorways however, is another matter, and will (I think) require planning permission - but I may mistaken!
     
    Last edited: 23 Aug 2018
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  5. Gazman16

    Gazman16

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    Hi guys. I was starting to think noone was going to reply here. I would have bumped it at some point but I'm having lots of fun working out how to get the new electric, water and gas mains in at the mo.

    The only stipulation on the planning consent is that its completed within 3 years.

    As for the doors. I am assuming as per my window fitting background that as long as there is an existing window there it can be knocked through to form a door.
    2 of the doors will actually be right where a set of existing French doors are. Then its just a new door for the single bed flat to the right where the window currently is.
    The plans show bricking up half the window to fit a smaller one but I plan to just keep the width and fit a door with sidelight window.

    Obviously I will have to switch the lounges of flats 1 & 3 to the front so you enter into the lounge.
     
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  7. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    With regards to converting windows to doors, I wonder if, technically speaking, it's quite as simple as that? Permitted development rights for commercial buildings differ from residential buildings (and I'm not very familiar with them). Permitted development rights for flats are non-existent. Practically speaking, it probably doesn't matter, and anyway, it's always better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
     
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  8. napoleondynamite

    napoleondynamite

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    I'm not surprised that there is a lack of understanding around prior approvals; they are horrendously complicated. Martin Goodall has written two books on the subject; they are a good source of information and advice, but that fact there is two books worth of stuff to write about shows how complex it all is!

    The permission is granted through a hybrid approach. The permission is granted primarily through legislation (the GPDO), but the legislation includes a requirement to go through the prior approval process with the council. Many of the restrictions are set out in the legislation so won't be set out on a prior approval decision notice. The decision needs to be read in conjunction with the legislation.

    Strangely, whether you are bound to detailed flat layouts depends upon whether they were submitted with the application. It is not a requirement to submit detailed layouts, but many people do and are then bound by them.

    The procedures for prior approvals are set out in Schedule 2, Part 3, Paragraph W.

    W.12 and 13 are relevant to these queries:

    (12) The development must be carried out

    (a)where prior approval is required, in accordance with the details approved by the local planning authority;

    (b)where prior approval is not required, or where sub-paragraph (11)(c) applies, in accordance with the details provided in the application referred to in sub-paragraph (1),

    unless the local planning authority and the developer agree otherwise in writing.



    (13) The local planning authority may grant prior approval unconditionally or subject to conditions reasonably related to the subject matter of the prior approval



    So if detailed drawings were approved, you are bound to comply with them, unless you and the LPA agree otherwise in writing.

    Conditions can be applied, and in fact legal agreement can be secured to provide, for example, contributions towards transport infrastructure- as some of these scheme involve hundreds of units.
     
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  9. Gazman16

    Gazman16

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    Got to love how simple they make everything.
    I have a friend who does quite a few newbuild houses (I do his windows) and he has also just something very similar to my proposed flat 3 around the corner from this one.
    He got planning to extend the shopfront out further and rebuild the roof (while maintaining it was going to stay as a shop) as soon as he had done that to make it bigger he changed it to a flat.

    His opinion was to just do it and planning would be ok with it or I would just have to get retrospective permission.
    Although it would be a bit different to the proposed plans at the front, Other than 1 new door it will pretty much look like the existing.

    Permission has been granted under class O if that makes any difference.
     
  10. napoleondynamite

    napoleondynamite

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    Yes Class O is the right one, but the procedure is set out under paragraph W.. as you say- aren’t they great at keeping things simple!
     
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