Changes to the Use Class Order and new permitted development rights have come into force on 31st August/1st September having been laid before Parliament in July.  The changes provide new opportunities for homeowners, property owners, developers and businesses within the system; considering your options and taking advice has never been so important.

Changes to The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (the GDPO) include, but are not limited to, new rights in relation to upward extension of buildings.  Homeowners can provide more living space by constructing additional storeys.  There are qualifying criteria, and conditions, for such rights and it is subject to a prior approval process where the Local Planning Authority is required to consider certain matters.  Despite this it could offer many property owners the chance to re-model, extend and improve properties without having to move home.

Further changes will allow demolition of vacant commercial, industrial or residential buildings that no longer serve their original purpose, so that such buildings can be replaced with new residential buildings which meet natural light and other standards.  There are, of course, qualifying criteria such as falling within a certain use class in March 2020, being built before January 1990 and having been entirely vacant for at least six months.  The rights are also subject to a prior approval process and limits of scale, but it could see redundant areas being more usefully utilised for new housing on previously developed sites.

In addition, an overhaul of the 1987 Use Class Order, which groups different uses of buildings and land into “use classes”, introduces, amongst other changes, new use classes E and F.  Common town centre/high street uses such as shops, restaurants and cafes and assembly and leisure will move into Use Class E.  The logic behind such changes is to allow more flexible use of buildings given that a change of use, within a single use class, is not defined as development within the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  Changes within that use class do not, therefore, require planning permission.  This will also allow for different uses of a building at different times of a day.  Such changes will give businesses and property owners greater scope to pivot, adapt or space share in order to navigate through the impact of Covid-19 and now, a recession, without fear of planning implications.

In addition to these changes the Government has just released, for consultation, a new planning white paper indicating further reform of the planning system.  A period of opportunity to shape development in our local area is definitely here!  There are several elements to the changes due within the next month and the above is only a whistle stop summary of some key elements for people to be aware of.

A little more detail on the changes can be found in my earlier post, from 28th July, NEW PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS AND CHANGES TO USE CLASSES on the main news page.