Government plans to make it easier for empty offices to be turned into housing could help deliver more homes in Exeter, according to a property consultant.

But Charles Kislingbury, head of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Exeter office warned the market will dictate whether it amounts to any real change in the city.

He added: “This is a positive step that could help bring a new lease of life to long empty office buildings and deliver some of the new homes Exeter so desperately needs. It could also help reduce the pressure to build housing on green field sites and help further regeneration of the city centre and elsewhere.

“But we need to be realistic. Inevitably the market will identify the viable options, but it’s worth remembering that any physical changes to the buildings, likely to be necessary in most cases, will still require planning permission. So don’t expect the immediate transformation of Exeter’s most deserted commercial areas.”