The 6th April 2018 saw the introduction of the Government’s latest amendments to the General Permitted Development order, as reported in our March bulletin. Included within the changes were clarifications on where prior approval is needed and temporary rights were either extended or made permanent.
A significant update relates to Class Q, which allows a change of use of agricultural buildings to residential use, with the previous limit of 3 residential units that can be created, increased to 5. It is now possible to provide:
A prior approval application would be required to be made to the local planning authority, but these new thresholds mean that it is possible to provide up to 500sqm of residential floor space, with five small homes, by adding to the internal floor area of the original agricultural building. Even more floorspace may be achieved when applying the Regulations for the creation of larger homes, or combination of large and small units, where the stated thresholds are not exceeded.
In addition to the above, the use of permitted development rights, as a fall-back, has also been qualified by the Courts. In residing over Mansell v Tonbridge And Malling Borough Council  EWCA Civ 1314 the Courts found that a ‘fall-back’ development may be a material planning consideration for an alternative development scheme, provided it is a real prospect. The case confirms that the use of Class Q PDRs, as a fall-back, can be a material planning consideration, potentially tipping the planning balance in favour of an alternative development.
Indeed, Bell Cornwell has already been successful in demonstrating to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, that a purpose-built new build house was preferable to the prior approval conversion of the existing agricultural barn. The application successfully argued that the prior approval was a legitimate fall-back position, which together with environmental enhancements overcame the development plan policy of resisting isolated dwellings in the countryside.
The offer of PDRs under Class Q is not necessarily straightforward but does provide opportunities to create new dwellings, outside of normal policy considerations.
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