In general, the conversion of a dwelling house to flats would involve a material change of use and therefore require planning permission. It would then be for the local authority to determine whether this is appropriate based on their local plans and policies and the need for such housing in the area. It is important for local authorities to strike a balance between the need to make efficient use of land by building at higher densities in accessible locations and making sure that satisfactory living conditions are either maintained or could be achieved.
I have no plans to give local authorities greater powers in relation to planning decisions on the conversion of dwelling houses to flats, as I consider that existing powers are sufficient. It would not be appropriate to restrict generally the opportunities that conversions can bring to overall housing stock, as these are decisions best taken locally after careful consideration of the merits and drawbacks of each particular case.
Communities and Local Government collects quarterly aggregate statistics on the number of planning decisions granted for major and minor developments relating to residential development. We do not collect data on individual planning applications. However, data obtained directly from the borough of Bournemouth show that the authority gave planning permission for the following numbers of dwellings over the past three years.
Number 2005-06 2,900 2006-07 2,677 2007-08 2,253
The figures exclude any applications granted on appeal. The statistics may also include applications for the same site.