New permitted development rights come into force on 25 May 2019

Legislation Update
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The Government’s recent response to the consultation on planning reform makes clear that  permitted development (PD) rights will be extended in a bid to support high streets and speed up the delivery of new homes.

Regulations laid before parliament last week will come into effect on 25 May 2019, and will include new rights to change the use of high street shops and takeaways and make permanent existing temporary rights allowing the extension of residential properties.  The government has also confirmed its intension to push ahead with plans to introduce a PD right “to extend upwards certain existing buildings in commercial and residential use to deliver additional homes” despite the idea receiving a mixed response during the consultation exercise.

Key changes to come into force on 25 May 2019

Shops to offices: The regulations introduce a new PD right whichallows shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, pay day loan shops and launderettes of up to 500 sqm to change to office use (B1). Prior approval is required which allows the local planning authority an opportunity to consider certain planning impacts, including the sustainability of existing shopping areas.

Takeaways to residential use: Existing PD rights allowing the change of use of up to 150 sqm of shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), betting offices, pay day loan shops and launderettes to residential use (C3) are amended to also allow hot food take-aways (A5) to change to residential use (subject to prior approval).

Flexible uses: Existing PD rights allow a change of use from any Class A1, A2, A3, A5, B1, D1, or D2 use, “betting office”, or “pay day loan shop” to a temporary “flexible use” (i.e. A1, A2, A3, or B1) for a single continuous period of up to 2 years. From 25 May 2019, the new regulations amend these rights so that the temporary “flexible use” also includes specified community uses (exhibition hall, public library, museum, clinic or health centre, or art gallery (other than for sale or hire)), and extends the period of temporary use from two to three years.

Household rear extensions: Existing temporary PD rights allow householders to benefit from a larger extension to their home without the need for a planning application.  The existing rights, introduced in 2013, allow the erection of a larger rear single-storey extension (increased from 3m to 6m for attached houses and from 4m to 8m for detached houses) subject to prior approval, provided the extension was completed by 30 May 2019.  The new regulations remove reference to this completion date, thereby making the right permanent.

Future Changes

Time-limited Permitted Development Right:  In response to concerns expressed over the quality of housing and an economic need to protect storage and distribution premises, the Government has confirmed that the temporary right for changes of use from storage or distribution (B8) to residential (C3) will not be extended nor made permanent.

Upward extensions:  More than half of those who responded to the recent consultation exercise confirmed that they did not support the use of PD rights for upward extensions, with concerns raised over the quality of housing produced and the impact on existing and neighbouring properties. Notwithstanding these objections, the Government has confirmed its intention to bring forward a permitted development to allow upward extensions of existing buildings in commercial and residential use to create new homes.

The expanded PD rights to be brought in on 25 May 2019 may well prove a useful tool for some high street property owners and developers, giving additional flexibility and certainty in challenging times.  Using airspace above existing properties is already encouraged in national policy and the introduction of new PD rights could potentially complement existing policy support but as the Government acknowledges, getting the technical detail right will be key to the success of any future upward extension PD rights.

As with all permitted rights, certain exemptions and conditions apply and Firstplan would be happy to advise on any queries relating to PD rights.