Bath and North East Somerset Council: Dan Wilden Director of Pure Town Planning is pleased to have secured a prior approval consent for the conversion of an office building in Bath to three flats. The prior approval application was made in relation to Class O of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 and submitted just before the final deadline for submissions on 31 July 2021 with the class now effectively withdrawn. The scheme was designed by RLM Architects of Wimborne.

With Class O prior approvals there were five issues which the LPA had to consider: highways impacts, contamination risks, flood risks, noise impact from any commercial premises on the occupiers, and adequate natural light to the habitable rooms of the proposed dwellings.

Highways is rarely a problem in these cases because usually the change from a commercial use to residential results in fewer vehicle movements and less parking demand. In this case however we had to work hard to pursuade the highways officer that parking provision below the adopted standard was acceptable, including a detailed accessibility report. Whilst we aimed for zero parking, a compromise of one parking space was accepted.

The site is located in Flood Zone 2, thus we required a Flood Risk Assessment from Frank Tyhurst which successfully pursuaded the Council and Environment Agency that the development was acceptable using the existing floor levels.

Class O of permitted development is now effectively replaced by Class MA however Class MA has a new restriction which means it can not be used in areas of outstanding natural beauty, National Parks and World Heritage Sites (hence cannot be used in the city of Bath). Class MA also has the new requirement that the building has to have been vacant for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to applying for prior approval.

If you have a commercial building and are wondering whether it has potential for a residential conversion, why not contact Pure Town Planning for an appraisal by one of our consultants.