England: New permitted development rights became available on the 1st October 2017 potentially allowing the conversion of B1(c) (light industrial) buildings to C3 Residential Dwellings. This is only a temporary permitted development right, with the permitted development right ceasing on the 1st October 2020. The right was contained in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 which came into force 06 April 2016 but a delay was built-in designed to allow Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) the chance to make Article 4 directions (to remove the right in specific locations). As far as we can see no Article 4 directions have been made in the Dorset or Hampshire areas.

Are there many B1(c) light industrial units suited for change of use to residential? It could require some creative thinking…

In line with other similar changes of use this permitted development right is subject to a prior approval process with various limitations and conditions that must be met to be granted Prior Approval. The key exemptions and limitations are as follows:

  • The building must have been used solely for light industrial (Use Class B1(c)) on 19th March 2014 (or when last in use if not in use on or since that date),
  • The prior approval date must be before 1st October 2020;
  • The gross floorspace of the existing building cannot exceed 500 sqm;
  • If occupied under an agricultural tenancy, express consent of both tenant and landlord is required,
  • No development can begin within one year of terminating an agricultural tenancy if it was terminated for the purpose of changing the use by virtue of Class PA (unless both the tenant and landlord have agreed in writing that the site is no longer required for agricultural purposes),
  • The site cannot be or form part of a site of special scientific interest; safety hazard zone or a military storage area,
  • The building cannot be listed, or be within the curtilage of a listed building; and
  • The site must not be or contain a scheduled monument.

The developer must submit a statement proving that the building was solely in light industrial B1 (c) use on 19th March 2014 (or when last in use if not in use on that date, and not in use since). Such evidence could include showing VOA Rates, photographic evidence and business documents showing the nature of the business using that building.

In addition to the above, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) must consider whether its prior approval is required with regard to:

  • Transport and highways impact of the development
  • Contamination risks
  • Flood risks; and
  • Whether the change of use of the building to residential would have an adverse impact on the sustainability of the provision of industrial and/or storage or distribution services in that area – if the building (or part of a building, if only part is being converted) considered by the LPA as important for provision of those services.

The LPA can then grant or refuse such approval if deemed required. The latter point in particular is potentially very open ended and could form the basis of LPAs trying to prevent the loss of light industrial units through this route. If permitted the development is subject to the condition that it be completed within a period of three years starting with the date of prior approval.

Finally it is worth adding that like other permitted development rights this cannot be used to overcome the Dorset Heathlands restriction (i.e. no new houses within 400m) and other similar habitat restrictions placed elsewhere.

So if you have a light industrial building that you think may qualify for this permitted development and you would like a free confidential appraisal, why not contact Pure Town Planning on 01202 585524 or email us at info@puretownplanning.co.uk. Remember time is limited for this permitted development right!

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