Do You Measure Up?

19th November 2020

Space Standards for Permitted Development

Further to the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick’s, announcement at the end of September (reported in our article Give Me Some Space), regulations were laid in parliament on the 12th November 2020 requiring all homes delivered through permitted development rights to meet the national space standards from 6 April 2021.

These changes have been made in response to concerns raised by local planning authorities about changes of use from office to residential use under permitted development rights, where no standards could be imposed,  that in some cases have resulted in units they considered to be too small.

The regulations mean that any prior approval submitted after 6th April for a dwellinghouse secured by these means will need to comply with the national space standards, preventing the creation of dwellings which have a gross internal floor area of less than 37 sqm.

The national space standards set out both unit and rooms sizes for residential developments. For example, for a three-bedroom, two storey house, the minimum floor area is 84sqm, and a single bedroom must have a floor area of at least 7.5sqm and be no less than 2.15m wide.

These new requirements relate to all permitted development proposals which create a new home, including office and barn conversions and the recently introduced provisions which allow for upward extensions (flats on top of an existing block or commercial unit etc). Read our previous articles Onwards & Upwards and Going Up to find out more.

So, what does it mean for your development?

Any current prior approval or application submitted prior to 6th April 2021 will continue to be considered without the need to comply with the national space standards. Therefore, any existing schemes which may fall short of the standards in some regard, even by a small margin of 1sqm, would need to be submitted in the next few months before the provisions come into force.

Potential implications for submissions made after the 6th April 2021 are that less units may be able to be accommodated than originally envisaged. Furthermore, the permitted development provisions that allow for demolition and rebuild (e.g class ZA) may now be more appropriate because units of the required sizes could be incorporated more easily with a new building than an existing one.

The new regulations do not necessarily mean that all developments requiring planning applications must accord with the standards, as not all authorities have policies which apply the national space standards, but to utilise the permitted development route they must comply. There might be good reasons why a certain element of the space standards cannot be achieved within a development. In these instances, a full planning application maybe appropriate and as part of that process any non-compliance would be an issue considered in the planning balance.

The introduction of space standards for prior approvals adds a further element which needs to be considered at the early stages of a project and may affect which planning process to follow.

Should you be considering a proposal which may be affected by the space standards regulations, or if you are unsure of how to best progress your proposals please do get in touch.

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