Permitted development office to residential prior approvalBournemouth Borough Council: Pure Town Planning have just secured the first (of many in the pipeline) Prior Approval consents for the straight change of use of two office buildings in Seabourne Road, Southbourne into 4 semi detached (2 x two bedroom and 2 x three bedroom) residential dwelling houses.

The proposal takes advantage of probably the most significant of new permitted development rights which were introduced on 30th May 2013 (read our Briefing Note here). The new right applies to the whole of England except a number of excluded areas – these are largely in London but (randomly) include a number of areas in East Hampshire District (no other parts of Dorset or Hampshire are affected). This PD right only applies until 30 May 2016 and the other limitations are that the building has to have been last in use for Use Class B1(a) (offices) and is not a listed building or scheduled monument.

The right only applies to a change of use so does not grant consent for any operational development which may be necessary i.e. any physical works which change the external appearance of the building such as changes to windows or doors. However as in this case if any external alterations are required to make the development more appealing or usable then these can simply be applied for in the usual way once the residential use has been confirmed.

This procedure was relatively straight forward; we informed Bournemouth Borough Council of the intended development by completing the relevant form and sending in existing and proposed plans. The  Council are only able consider the implications for flood risk, contamination or highway safety. In this case they issued the decision within 42 days to say its prior approval is not required. Therefore our client can now go you can go ahead and start building. The significant advantages of this process is that the Council’s application fee was only £80 instead of £1540, the process only takes 42 days instead of 8 weeks, there were no ‘open space’ or ‘transport’ contributions payable (a saving of up to £13,500) and crucially no affordable housing – a whopping potential saving of over £100,000 in this instance! Just to note in Bournemouth (and other affected areas) there is a loophole which still allows them to take the Dorset Heathands contribution.

If you have a building in B1 office use (or vacant and last used as B1 office) and would like confidential advice on whether this permitted development right could apply to your building then please do call Matt, Dan or Neil on 01202 585524 or email Do it now – any conversion must take place before May 2016!