Flat Conversions

Studio Charrette's chartered planning consultants are experts in dealing with Flat Conversions

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1. Flat Conversions

Converting a house into flats is getting increasingly popular due to the UK housing shortage and the lucrative profits on successful flat conversions. All flat conversions will require full planning permission as well as building regulations approval.

Property investors and developers often look to purchase large houses with scope to subdivide into several smaller apartments which can then either be sold or rented separately. When successful this can yield an excellent return on investment however it is not without risk especially as planning permission is never guaranteed.

There could be planning constraints which may make it difficult or even impossible on certain properties.

2. Potential Constraints

With any development there are always potential planning constraints which are often hidden that can make the simplest of projects into a very complex planning application. 

If the building is listed in addition to securing planning approval you will also require listed building consent and building regulations approval before work can commence. Carrying out any works on a listed building without the necessary approvals is a criminal offence. 

Securing planning approval within conservation areas is always little more problematic and often requires even more supporting evidence than normal and in some cases specialist reports such as heritage statements may be required. 

For properties in flood risk zones a specialist Flood Risk Assessment report is usually required with planning applications. There are also many other specialist reports such as wildlife reports, transport surveys etc which may be required. 

Finally, as with any development there is a long list of planning and design criteria that must be met in order to have any chance of approval. This includes things such as materials, the appearance of the design, the right to light and minimal living space standards.

3. Can you build without first submitting an application?

Even if we believe your conversion to flats is likely to be considered permitted development, it is always strongly recommended that no work commences until all of the necessary planning and building regulations approvals are secured. Doing so would be at your own risk!

On a daily basis we receive enquiries from clients who have received planning enforcements and been given 28 days to secure planning permission or demolish their development, which is a very costly and stressful situation. 99% of these cases are clients who were sure their development was permitted having either read some info online or been mis-advised by their builder. 

In some cases, they could have been permitted with a few minor changes to the design. Sometimes they were permitted at the time of the build but the planning authority have subsequently imposed planning constraints removing their permitted development rights, meaning they now need

4. Do you need planning permission for your conversion to flats?

If you are thinking of buying a property with the intention of converting it into flats, it would be strongly advised that you obtain an expert opinion regarding the feasibility and likelihood of success before purchasing. You do not need to own the property; in fact, we deal with many clients who are considering making an offer subject to their conversion to flats being feasible. 

To find out what would be required for your flat conversion you have a couple of options. You could submit a formal pre-application to your planning authority with the designs and project brief which your planning authority will respond to indicating what “might be required”. Ultimately the final design and application will determine their decision so the pre-app still does not give you a definitive answer. The process takes 8 weeks and can cost hundreds of pounds excluding any architectural designs.

Alternatively, Studio Charrette who are a partner of the government’s planning portal can conduct a planning appraisal. This involves a chartered planning consultant researching the project to check the relevant planning and design policies, they also check the planning history and look for any hidden constraints. This takes about an hour at which point they can call to advise what would be required and answer any questions. Subsequently we forward the advice in writing.

There are never any guarantees with planning permission, because ultimately only your planning authority can make the legal determination. However, with a planning appraisal we can let you know whether your proposed development would be feasible, assuming it is what the best route forward would be and the likelihood of success. As part of the planning appraisal, we can also advise you on building regulations, structural engineering calculations and construction if required.

Assuming the planning appraisal is positive we can then provide a quote for any services you want help with including architectural design, planning permission, building regulations and construction. Should you decide to instruct Studio Charrette can take care of everything for you from start to finish.

If you have any questions or would like to arrange a planning appraisal for your project, contact us today and a member of our team will contact you shortly.

5. How to apply for a conversion to flats?

Every application requires a variety of supporting evidence to justify why it should be approved, architectural drawings, maps, block plans and of course the correct application to be completed. 

Once an application is submitted the planning authority first needs to validate it. They then have up to 8 weeks to process the application and reach a decision. It is however common for planning authorities to request additional information or minor design alterations which can delay the process further. 

For this reason, it is recommended that you allow as much time as possible to receive the decision, at least 3 months and up to 12 months ahead is ideal. Once planning is approved you generally have 3 years to start work and 5 years to complete the work.

In theory anyone can submit an application although other than industry professionals those who try are often rejected unnecessarily due to missing information or mistakes.  Even architects are generally only qualified in design but not planning so, while they can draw anything this does not mean that it meets all of the necessary planning criteria. In fact, lots of clients come to us having been rejected with an architect because the application did not meet the necessary planning criteria. 

At Studio Charrette, we have a team of inhouse architects and planners who work together on every application. This ensures the design meets both our client’s expectation and also the expectations of the planning authority to give every application the best chance of success. 

retrospective planning permission and sometimes it was never going to be permitted development due to the local planning policy.

6. Price Match Guarantee

We fully appreciate any unexpected cost is going to be unwelcome, but you will be pleased to know our prices are so competitive, we offer a price match guarantee and in most cases the planning costs are insignificant compared to the development.

If there is a way to help you achieve a positive outcome our chartered planning consultants will give you the best chance of success. Equally if we think it simply isn’t feasible, while it may be bad newswe are obliged to give you frank and honest professional advice.

7. Choose Studio Charrette!

If you choose to instruct Studio Charrette, we will take care of everything for you from this point including preparing all the necessary supporting evidence, architectural drawings, submitting and managing your application throughout the entire process.

We will keep you updated from start to finish until we receive a decision, which thanks to our planning appraisals is usually positive.

Don’t leave it until it’s too late!

If you are in any doubt about how to deal with Flat Conversions
contact us right away to speak with one of our Expert Chartered Planning Consultants.

Enquire Now

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