New rules have been created, to make it possible to convert disused offices into homes without having to obtain planning permission.

It is thought that a large number of former offices could now be turned into private rental blocks.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said: “New permitted development rights will enable offices to be converted to homes. This is an opportunity for office owners and developers to bring outdated and underused buildings back to life and create much-needed new housing.”

However, 17 local authorities have opted out of the three-year planning exemption.

London boroughs include: the City of London, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea.

Outside London, they are: Vale of the White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford (Kent), the district councils of Sevenoaks, and East Hampshire, and Manchester City Council.

Later this year, the Government will consult on similar plans to turn redundant shops and farm buildings into homes.