The Government has announced that it is bravely going ahead with a new permitted development right to allow offices to be converted into residential without the need for planning permission. An amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO) will be made later this year.
The key features of the new permitted development right are that:
- it will allow only conversions of offices within use class B1(a) to residential dwellings in use class C3
- it will apply for a temporary period of three years
- a prior approval process will be required which will cover significant transport and highway impacts, and development in areas of high flood risk, land contamination and safety hazard zones
- it is for the change of use only – any external physical changes will still require planning permission.
The Government is allowing Local Authorities to apply now for an exemption but apparently these will only be allowed if they can demonstrate “substantial adverse economic consequences”. The pressure is on LPAs who only have until 22 February 2013 to apply to the Secretary of State for exemption with supporting evidence. The Order is expected to be made soon after that date.
Other measures announced at the same time include new permitted development rights to convert redundant agricultural buildings to small scale commercial uses including shops, restaurants, hotels, leisure facilities and offices. The threshold for changes between Use Class B1 and B8 and from B2 to B1 or B8 will increase from 235 sqm to 500 sqm.
To help try to bring vacant high street buildings back into use, town centre uses (falling within use classes A1, A2, A3 and B1) will be able to be converted temporarily for two years.
If you have any queries on how these changes might affect you then please call us.