JOBS and businesses are set to benefit after a council secured an exemption from government policy.
Under new planning rules, offices can be converted into flats without the need to apply for planning permission.
But East Hampshire District Council said this could harm the economy of the area as there is a shortage of office space.
After successfully arguing its case, East Hampshire is one of 17 local authorities, including the City of London, which has been granted the exemption by the government.
The new permitted development rights come into effect on May 30.
David Parkinson, who heads planning at East Hampshire District Council, said: ‘This is good news for the business community in East Hampshire.
‘The exemption means that East Hampshire’s towns and villages maintain the ability to respond to the ever changing needs of businesses.
‘The exemption means that we can plan effectively for future economic growth and prosperity without the threat of losing valuable office floorspace.’
The new rules were announced in January and all local authorities were invited to apply for an exemption.
Julia Potter, head of planning at East Hampshire, said: ‘An exemption is great news for the district as a whole.
‘The negative impact, in terms of loss of jobs and gross value added, of the new measures would have far outweighed the benefits.’