Eric Pickles permitted development changes
Eric Pickles announced the changes to Parliament yesterday – Secretary of State responsible for planning since May 2010, will he remain after May 2015?

England: The Government has just laid The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 – the first consolidated permitted development order since 1995. It’s about time as the 1995 order was subject to over 20 separate amendment orders – ten of which under the present Government.

The consolidated order introduces a handful of changes and one key omitted change. The omission is that there is no extension to the office to residential conversion permitted development rights – this will still expire on 30 May 2016.  We keep saying it but the residential use must have begun by that date – so all conversion works completed in advance. The Ministerial Statement blandly states that the Government will “further consider the case for extending the office to residential reforms, which are helping provided more new homes on brownfield land”.  I think we can interpret this as being no extension to be made in this Government.

On the other hand the larger rear extensions to dwellinghouses permitted development right (which proved somewhat less controversial in practice) has been extended – such extensions must now be completed by 30 May 2019, another three years.

Other amendments to permitted development rights include new rights (subject to prior notification process) to change use to residential from amusement arcades, casinos and storage or distribution centres (Use Class B8). All are subject to floor space restrictions and in the latter case there is a three year time restriction – change of use must have occurred by 15 April 2018.

Whilst the consolidated legislation is welcome for convenience it may take some time to establish whether there have been any minor wording changes. I can already see a substitution of an “and” with an “or” which scuppers one of my favourite householder extension loopholes.

If you have any concerns about how this affects you, or if you still have ambitions to get an office to residential conversion completed in time, then do contact Pure Town Planning.