New uses for old buildings

Disused building on Finmere airfieldDo you have any empty buildings in your village? It may be a house, a pub, a shop or a church. Having an empty building can cause problems for a village. You have to do a survey on the building to decide what uses it could be turned to.

Visit the building

Take a class visit to the building. Your class could be split into pairs and sent to do different tasks. One member of the pair will take written notes about the use, layout and condition of the building. They will have to take measurements of the size of the building as well as note down any broken windows, damaged bricks or stones and any graffiti. The second member of the pair will take pictures of the building. They will have to work with together closely to make sure everything that is important is photographed.


When you get back to class each pair can write up their notes and add all the pictures to make a report about the current state of the empty building. 

Disused Walton Mill before destructionWhat do the people around the building think about it?

The affects of an empty building that you though of are particularly bad for those living close by. Do a survey of the people living on the same street. Find out the answers to these questions: 

  1. How long has the building been empty?
  2. What did it used to be used for?
  3. Has it attracted unwanted behaviour since it has been empty? If yes, what kind?
  4. What would you like to see done with the empty building? 

Planning application for new use for the building

Read the information your teacher gives you on how to write a planning application for a change of use of a building. Make sure you have all the information you need to go ahead with this. You will need accurate measurements of the building and knowledge of what the past use was. You will also need to know whether the house has any special features, especially if it is historically important.


Then, taking into account what neighbours want, suggest alternative uses for the building. Be creative. You could ring up local builders, plumbers and decorators to find out how you’re your alterations might cost, which would be useful information to send to the local planning authority.


When you have written your planning application, write a covering letter saying why you are writing and send the application to the district council.


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