The prime minister this week announced that it will become easier to change empty commercial properties into new homes, as part of plans to help build more houses.
Property owners will also be able to build additional space above their properties with a fast track approval process.
Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA (pictured), said: “A strong and active housing market will be hugely important in getting the UK economy back to strength in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
“IMLA therefore welcomes these latest changes to planning regulations from the government. There is a shortage of suitable housing in this country to meet the demand and varied needs of our population.
“These new measures will go some way to enabling better use of vacant properties and publicly-owned land in order to facilitate the development of more homes.
“Many commercial properties have been sitting vacant for years in areas where there is significant demand for housing, and it’s likely the number of vacant commercial offices will increase in the wake of the crisis, with more businesses working remotely or needing smaller spaces.
“It’s quite right that landlords and developers should be able to adapt these properties into homes, provided this is done responsibly and in a way which ensures quality and sustainability.”
IMLA has said the government should consider extending the Help to Buy scheme to further support the mortgage and housing market and get it “firing at full capacity”.
Davies said: “The Help-to-Buy equity loan scheme is currently due to be changed in 2021 and phased out completely in 2023.
“An extension of the current scheme would prove helpful to developers and buyers, who will be playing ‘catch up’ after the delays caused by the pandemic and lockdown.
“Covid-19 quite rightly needs to be the government’s priority at the moment, but when the dust settles the spotlight will need to be firmly on working together with industry to build a long-term housing strategy.”