These days many pro­fes­sion­als are opt­ing out of pur­chas­ing busi­ness units in favour of repur­pos­ing res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties for com­mer­cial use. Tra­di­tion­al busi­ness units usu­al­ly boast an open-plan lay­out which can be quite lim­it­ing in terms of how the space can be used. Con­verse­ly, busi­ness own­ers are tak­ing advan­tage of the way res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties are divid­ed to cre­ate ded­i­cat­ed areas for work­flow depend­ing on the type of busi­ness they are run­ning. If you’re con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a res­i­den­tial prop­er­ty with the hopes of con­vert­ing it into a com­mer­cial premis­es there are a cou­ple of things you will need to consider.

Plan­ning Permission

All land and build­ings are organ­ised into dif­fer­ent use class­es’ under The Town and Coun­ty Plan­ning Order 1987. The use class of your build­ing will dic­tate whether or not you need to apply for plan­ning per­mis­sion. Chang­ing a prop­er­ty from one kind of com­mer­cial use to anoth­er doesn’t usu­al­ly require plan­ning per­mis­sion (though there are excep­tions to this). Chang­ing a prop­er­ty from res­i­den­tial to com­mer­cial use, how­ev­er, almost always requires plan­ning permission.

It’s impor­tant to speak to your local plan­ning author­i­ty before pur­chas­ing a prop­er­ty you intend to change the use of since plan­ning per­mis­sions can some­times be denied due to a num­ber of exter­nal fac­tors. Things like the hours with­in which your busi­ness will oper­ate, park­ing for employ­ees, and any addi­tion­al waste col­lec­tion require­ments, can all work against you when apply­ing for change of use.

Build­ing Regulations

All build­ings are sub­ject to dif­fer­ent reg­u­la­tions depend­ing on what they are being used for. For exam­ple, an office build­ing will be sub­ject to a very dif­fer­ent set of reg­u­la­tions than a restau­rant. Build­ing reg­u­la­tions may change when con­vert­ing from one use class to anoth­er so it’s impor­tant to check which reg­u­la­tions will apply once you’ve changed use. You can do this by con­tact­ing your local build­ing con­trol body. Fail­ure to com­ply with reg­u­la­tions means you could be ordered to make major con­struc­tion alter­ations to your build­ing by local author­i­ties. You may even be ordered to cease busi­ness oper­a­tions until reg­u­la­tions are met. 

Health and Safe­ty

There are mul­ti­ple health and safe­ty require­ments that com­mer­cial prop­er­ties need to meet in order to oper­ate. These will large­ly depend upon the intend­ed use class of your prop­er­ty but there are very few instances where fire doors and fire exits will not be required. The num­ber of required fire doors and exits, along with any smoke alarm require­ments, will depend on the size of your build­ing and the max­i­mum vol­ume of peo­ple using it at any giv­en time (this includes both cus­tomers and employ­ees). Oth­er health and safe­ty require­ments that are easy to over­look include pro­vid­ing access to clean drink­ing water and suit­able san­i­ta­tion and wash­ing facil­i­ties, as well as ensur­ing there is suf­fi­cient light and ven­ti­la­tion through­out the building. 

No mat­ter what your pur­chas­ing your prop­er­ty for, you will be in need of con­veyanc­ing ser­vices. We here at Jack­son Bar­rett and Gass are trained prop­er­ty spe­cial­ists, ded­i­cat­ed to mak­ing the con­veyanc­ing process as sim­ple as pos­si­ble. Vis­it our com­mer­cial or res­i­den­tial con­veyanc­ing pages for more information.