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Permitted rights

Samantha Jones, a Surveyor at Prop-Search

Sweeping changes to permitted development rights have now come into force says commercial property agent Prop-Search, which includes measures to allow offices to be converted into homes without planning permission.

The Government has issued the legislation - the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 - as part of its Planning for Growth agenda. This is aimed at stimulating economic recovery, for both the construction industry and easing the path of new business developments in the current economic climate. Some of the changes are expressly for a temporary period, recognising that the Government is significantly relaxing the usual planning controls for wider economic interests.

Samantha Jones, a Surveyor at Prop-Search, says: “Non-residential buildings are designated to be used for certain purposes, known as Classes. Changes came into effect on 30 May 2013 which allows some commercial buildings to have their original Use Order Class changed to another. This means that certain types of premises will have what is known as permitted development rights.”

Permitted development rights will apply to a change of use for the following:

● Offices (B1(a)) to a house (C3)

● An agricultural building up to 500 sq m to a flexible use falling within either shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), restaurants and cafes (A3), business (B1), storage or distribution (B8), hotels (C1) and assembly and leisure (D2)

● Business (B1), hotels (C1), residential institutions (C2), secure residential institutions (C2A) and assembly and leisure (D2) to use as a state-funded school

The various changes involve requirements with new obligations placed upon the applicant/developer as well as the local planning authority. Failure to observe these requirements could negate the right to gain the permitted development rights. The main obligation upon applicants is the ‘prior approval' regime, which - with most of the new legislation - makes it obligatory for the developer to serve certain details and/or notice upon the local planning authority of their intention to undertake permitted development. This is to ensure that areas of potential concern, such as flooding, contamination, highways, transport, noise and drainage are addressed.

The Order also gives other permitted development changes:

● A temporary increase in permitted development rights to extend A1, A2 and A3 class buildings from 25% gross floor space or 50 sq m to 50% or 100 sq m (whichever is lesser). This expires on 30 May 2016.

● A temporary increase in permitted development rights to extend B1, B2 and B8 class buildings so that the floor space limit for any new building is increased from 100 sq m to 200 sq m and the overall floor space limit for a new building or extension is increased from 25% to 50% with a maximum of 1,000 sq m. The works must be completed by 30 May 2016.

● In Conservation Areas, the construction, installation, alteration or replacement of a telegraph pole, cabinet or line, in association with fixed-line broadband, will no longer require an application for prior approval for the siting and appearance of the works. These permitted development rights expire on 30 May 2018.

●  Changes to permitted development rights for schools to allow the erection of a higher boundary fence, or wall, adjacent to a highway of up to two metres, provided it does not create an obstruction which is likely to be a danger for highway users. This is a permanent change.

There are certain issues which anyone considering using the permitted development rights should also be aware of warns Prop-Search. If works to convert a building require significant rebuilding and external changes, it is possible that full planning permission will still be required. And, the requirements of building regulations are likely to remain applicable in most cases.

Further information or advice can be obtained from Prop-Search - Tel: 01933 223300 / 01604 492000 or its website:

05 July 2013