Permitted Development Rights Shake Up

The Government has eventually revealed details of new permitted development rights with the publication of secondary legislation amending the Town and Country Planning Act’s General Permitted Development Order.

Among the key measures are the plans to allow offices to be converted to residential without the need for planning permission, whilst shops and schools can open within existing buildings and larger household extensions are permitted without the need for consent.

Further information regarding the following is contained below:

  • Office to Residential
  • Agricultural Change of Use
  • Temporary Change of Use
  • Change to a State-funded School
  • Business Change of Use
  • Residential Permitted Development
  • Office to Residential (Class J)

    Development consisting of a change of use from a use falling within Class B1(a) (Offices) to a use falling within Class C3 (Dwelling Houses) will be allowed as of the 30th May 2013.

    However, a number of areas within certain local authorities are exempt from the changes, with the majority being within London or the south east. In addition, there are a number of other exceptions, including if the building is listed or was never in use as a Class B1(a) Office before 30th May 2013.

    The development is permitted subject to the condition that before beginning the development, the developer shall apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether the ‘prior approval’ of the authority will be required. This is to allow potential transport / highway impacts; contamination; and flooding risks on the site to be assessed.

    In order for the authority to consider the proposal, the application shall be accompanied by a written description of the proposed development and a plan indicating the site and showing the proposed development.

    The local planning authority is required to consult with neighbours regarding the proposed change, and if they consider that the change of use would result in transport or highway impacts or a risk of flooding, they are required to consult the relevant statutory consultee. They may also request further information from the developer, where reasonable, to ascertain these potential impacts.

    The local planning authority must take into account any representations received in respect of the consultation and have regard to the relevant parts of the National Planning Policy Framework “as if the application were a planning application”

    The authority must provide written notice of their decision, confirming whether or not the change of use can be undertaken as permitted development within 8 weeks of receipt of the application. If the council refuses permission, a planning application will be required.

    Agricultural Change of Use (Class M)

    This allows development consisting of a change of use from an agricultural building to a ‘flexible use’ falling within either Class A1 (shops), Class A2 (financial and professional services), Class A3 (restaurants and cafes), Class B1 (business), Class B8 (storage or distribution), Class C1 (hotels) or Class D2 (assembly and leisure) to take place.

    Development is not permitted if the building has not been solely in agricultural use since 3rd July 2012; or the buildings have not been in use for 10 years, where first brought into use after 3rd July 2012. Amongst other restrictions, the cumulative floor space of buildings which have a changed use within an agricultural unit should not exceed 500 square metres.

    Again the ‘prior approval’ of the local planning authority is required.

    Temporary Change of Use (Class D)

    The order allows a temporary change of use of some buildings for a single continuous period of up to two years.

    Uses falling within Classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), A4 (drinking establishments), Class A5 (hot food takeaways), B1 (business), D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) will be allowed to change to a ‘flexible use’ falling within either Class A1 (shops), Class A2 (financial and professional services), Class A3 (restaurants and cafes) or Class B1 (business) without the need for consent.

    Again there are restrictions, and the local planning authority must be notified of when the change of use will take place, and what the change will be, before the use begins.

    Change to a State-funded School (Class C and K & L)

    The temporary use of a building and any land within its curtilage as a state-funded school for a single academic year is now allowed, subject to conditions (via Class C). In addition a state-funded school (via Class K) can now be permanently set up, subject to condition and  ‘prior approval’, where a building and any land within its curtilage falls within Classes B1 (Business), C1 (Hotels), C2 (Residential Institutions), C2A (Secure Residential Institutions) and D2 (Assembly and Leisure).  The change of use (via Class L) is then permitted allowing the school  to revert back to it’s previous lawful use.

    Business Change of Use (Part 8 of Schedule 2 – Class A)

    There are now increased thresholds for business changes of use. The thresholds will change from 235 square metres to 500 square metres for permitted development for change of use from Class B1 or B2 to Class B8 and from Class B2 or B8 to Class B1.

    Residential Permitted Development (Part 1 of Schedule 2 – Class A)

    Until 30th May 2016, a dwelling house not on article 1(5) land* nor on a Site of Special Scientific Interest can increase in size, providing it is single storey and would not exceed 4 metres in height beyond the rear wall of the original dwelling by up to 8 metres in the case of a detached residence or 6 metres in other cases.

    However, before beginning the development the developer shall provide information to the local planning authority including plans and a description of the scheme. The local planning authority shall then notify owners or occupiers of any adjoining premises about the proposed development allowing them 21 days to comment.

    Where any owner or occupier of any adjoining premises objects to the proposed development, the prior approval of the local planning authority is required as to the impact of the proposed development on the amenity of any adjoining premises.

    The existing rights, (4 metres for a detached residence or 3 metres in other cases) to construct extensions remain as Permitted Development with no need to undertake the ‘prior approval procedure’.


    * = ‘Article 1(5) land’ – this is land within a National Park, the Broads, an area of outstanding natural beauty, an area designated as a conservation area, and land within World Heritage Sites.