You may be able to convert space over a shop (and certain space over premises with a display window), or over a ground floor office, into up to two flats without putting in a planning application if you can answer yes to the following requirements:
- The space is in the same class of use as the shop or office to start with (either Class A1 or A2)
- The space is not in a separate planning unit from the shop
- You will not change the outside appearance of the building
- If there is a display window at ground floor level, you will not incorporate any of the ground floor into the flat.
The regulations define this as a 'material change of use' and specify the requirements with which, as a result of that change of use, the whole or part of the building must comply (e.g. those concerned with escape and other fire precautions, hygiene, sound insulation, and energy conservation).
The whole, or at least part, of the building may therefore need to be up-graded to make it comply with the specified requirements.