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Converting a house into flats.

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amanda.1982 | 21:52 Mon 10th Mar 2008 | Home & Garden
7 Answers
Is it hard now days to get planning permission to convert a house into 2 flats. Me and my partner are planning to buy an investment property in London and my step father who used to convert houses 20 years ago in southend. Is definilty up for us buying a house as he said we could convert it in a few years time 2 to flats. I think this is great idea but I think it may have become alot harder in recent years to do so. Any help would be much appreciated as if it is possible we could live in one of the flats sell/rent out the other or sell both. I dont mean to be rude but could people pls refraim from going into one about why would we would want to do this its a bad idea etc etc As I am more asking for advice on getting council planning permission rather then wether it is a good idea or not.

Many thanks and sorry If that last sentence sounded rude, I didnt mean to be its just so many questions I see on here where people ask for advice on a matter and they get answers where people just slate their idea rather than give advice on what they are asking.


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Hi Amanda, you'll need to go to your local council's webpages and look at their planning policies for flat conversion. Where I work, we will not consider a house suitable for flat conversion unless it was originally at least a four bedroom house, without any extensions. We also say at least one flat has to be two bedrooms or more and that they need parking and access to a garden. So yes, there are a lot of boxes to tick before you will get planning permission. If you want any more advice let me know, I'm a planning officer - but bear in mind that policies are different in different areas!
Some think there is an oversupply of flats in many areas. But large family homes are in shorter supply. If your council takes the supply of flats into account, as well as the requirements outlined by bushbaby, your plan could face problems.

The house we are currently refurbishing was pushed as being ideal for conversion. It wasn't in my opinion, due to the layout and location. So it is being refurbed as a family home of 3/4 beds. In fact a smaller house which was 2 flats was reinstated as a family home across from ours and sold in 2 weeks, even in a stagnant market.

When you come to do your conversion just check out with agents exactly what is sought after at the time, flats or family homes.
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bushbaby_de Thank you so much for your help I went onto the barking and dagenham council website but found it very difficult to get the information I needed. Would you be able to tell me please if I phoned them up would they be able to advise me on the type of property and so called essentials ie parking like you have mentioned in your answer? Also when you say access to the garden do you mean both apartments need direct access to the garden, I have 2 different friends who both live in converted houses both on the top floorone has a stair case leading from their kitchen to the garden downstairs and the other has nothing and says the garden is owned by the tenant down stairs.

rabbitygirl thank your advice as well. I was rather hoping we could live in one of the apartments and rent the other out, as 2 bed flats near barking are over half price of what 4 bed houses are.
Many Thanks again.

I don't wish to sound demeaning, but your understanding of Strategic Planning could do with an uplift, Amanda.
The information that will help you think about this in the London Borough you have selected is there, although I agree it isn't very visible.
The attached link takes you to series of documents produced by Dagenham & Barking - their Local Development Framework. This complex set of documents underpin the whole of local planning policy these days - and strategies such as affordable housing, proximity to sustainable transport are ever increasingly important. Does that matter on your modest scheme, you might ask? Well if you understand what the D&B council are seeking to promote, it helps understand how the policy might work for you. It isn't just as simple as 'can you provide x numbers of car-parking spaces'.
You can try phoning them (ask for Development Control department) but they will probably refer you to these documents - particularly the Preferred Options Core Strategy - Main Report. nvir/planning/local-dev-framework/plan-ldf-cor e-strategy.html
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If I knew alot about this I would not be asking. Once my step father, my partner and I find a property thats right my step father will take over as he has run his own building company for years but in the Uk in the last 15 years, the last 15 have been in australia. Back in his day he said you could get any house and convert it without any problems. I persumed there would be a criteria for the house you buy, at this present stage and although I understand certain boroughs are definitly moving away from this sort of development and are redevoloping to make them nicer areas before I can even think about that I need to get the specs from the council and as bushbaby_de
said as a council planner her borough they require the house to be at least 4+ bedrooms with parking for both flats etc etc now straight of the bat if the first thing B&D counsil say to me is it has to 4+ beds before they will even talk to me then I know even thinking about any further is a waste of time as I dont have a big enough profit to stretch to a bed 4 house. We have chosen barking because it is close to my partners family and my step father would carry out the work. thanks for the link I will read through it with my step father he knows a lot more about this than I do I just wanted to get a better understanding for myself.

Thanks again.
Question Author
Sorry if I sounded rude then i didnt mean too its just that its very late in aus way past my bed time. I just thought with my step father offering to do the work and us being able to afford something thats feehold instead of a leasehold flat it would be a good deal for us!
hi Amanda,

Yes your local council should be able to tell you the basics over the phone but the thing to remember is that it is all site specific. For example I can tell someone over the phone that if it isn't a 4 bed it definitely can't be converted but things like how many parking spaces, how much garden space etc are very specific to the site and local area and need a site visit to evaluate. If you aren't able to understand the policies by reading them yourself, the council will probably be able to do an appraisal of your proposal for you if you supply drawings etc but they will most likely charge for this pre-application service. The alternative is to emply a local planning agent who should know and understand local policy (although some of them don't so avoid the very very cheap ones!!) From the documents that buildersmate highlighted, some should be labelled as housing specific and a quick read of those should tell you if there are any policies that will rule you out, like if they have the 4 bed rule, without costing you any money at all. If I had more time I'd look over the website for you but I have exams at the minute so can't spare the time just now I'm afraid. If you have any more general questions do let me know though.

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