Increase in planning applications could signal a market revival

The number of planning applications for change of use has risen rapidly since the start of 2010, potentially signalling a revival in activity by developers and landlords, according to commercial law firm, EMW.

The number of change of use planning applications has increased over two consecutive quarters. It jumped 9% to 6,200 in Q2 2010 and 10% to 6,800 in Q3 2010, the most recent period for which data is available. These applications now represent a larger proportion of total planning applications, which decreased by 1%, to 126,200, in Q3 2010.

Giles Ferin, planning specialist at EMW, said: “The jump in planning applications for change of use shows that landlords and developers are now willing to take action and commit resources to try and get into the segment of the property market where there is the most demand locally.

“Landlords can have a problem because some local authorities are keen to preserve the mix of different uses within an area as set out in their local development plans.”

According to the firm, a large number of landlords have been sitting on vacant space because their property is not the type that is currently in demand. By applying for planning permission to change the use of their property, landlords hope to make them more attractive.

The central London market is currently attracting the most attention, after a number of high-profile commercial developments were given the go-ahead.