Making Use of a Changed Use

10th December 2020

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published proposals for consultation to support housing delivery, economic recovery and public service infrastructure. The consultation, which runs until the 28th January 2021, is split into three main parts:

1 – Class E, a new national permitted development right (PDR) for the change of use from the new Commercial, Business and Service use class to residential use.

2 – Amendments to existing PDRs to allow schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and prisons to expand without the need to seek planning permission.

3 – The consolidation and simplification of some existing PDRs, including those which allow for the change of use between use classes.

We previously reported on the introduction of a new Commercial, Business and Service use class from the 1st September 2020 allowing for premises to change within this class without planning permission (Time to Regroup). The new PDRs that have been proposed will allow the change of use from Class E (which includes retail, office, light industrial, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries) to residential dwellings (C3) without the need to obtain planning permission. This will consolidate existing PDRs that already allow for the change to residential use for shops, financial and professional services and offices, which continue to apply until 31 July 2021.

All homes created under PDRs are required to meet the nationally described space standards (read more in our article ‘Do You Measure Up?‘) which come into effect from 1 August 2021. There will be no size limit on the buildings that can benefit from the new PDR (applicable to all or part of a building) but all permitted development will be managed by the Local Planning Authority through the prior approval process. The prior approval process would consider the following:

  • high flood risk
  • transport/safe site access
  • land/building contamination
  • the impact of noise
  • adequate natural light
  • fire safety
  • protection of heavy industry and waste management areas

The new PDR would also apply in conservation areas. For sites within them, the prior approval process would also consider the impact of the loss of the ground floor use to residential use.

As with the existing PDRs, the proposed would not apply to: sites of special scientific interest; listed buildings and land within their curtilage; sites that are or contain scheduled monuments; safety hazard areas; military explosives storage areas and sites subject to an agricultural tenancy.

In addition to new and expanded PDR’s a new “fast track” planning application process to build public service buildings (schools, colleges, universities, prisons, hospitals) has also been proposed. This would see determination periods for such proposals reduced to 10 weeks and public consultation periods reduced to 14 days.

For further advice on the reforms and to discuss the opportunities that the proposed PDR’s introduce, do get in touch.

Jamie Wallace, Associate

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