New Permitted Development Rights and Changes to Use Classes

New changes to the planning system for England are due on 31st August 2020/1st September 2020 following the Government laying them before Parliament on 21st July.

The changes include amendments to the General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 (the GPDO) which creates new permitted development rights (PD rights) in relation to upward extension of buildings.  This is to allow existing houses to be extended to provide more living space by constructing additional storeys and the construction of additional storeys on free standing blocks and on buildings in a terrace that are houses or in certain commercial uses, and in mixed uses with an element of housing, to create additional self-contained homes.  There is also creation of new PD rights including to allow for the demolition of certain types of building, to be replaced by new homes.

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 No. 757 (the Use Classes Regulations) amend the existing 1987 Order by creating a new schedule 2 containing new use classes for England which will include Class E (commercial, business and service), Class F1 (learning and non-residential institutions) and Class F2 (local community).  The C Classes (residential) remain unchanged, as does Class B2 (general industrial) and Class B8 (storage and distribution).  The former Class A4 (drinking establishments) and Class A5 (hot food takeaway) have been removed so, along with cinemas, concert, dance and bingo halls they will be sui generis.

Such changes are key given that a number of permitted development rights grant general planning permission allowing changes of use between the former use classes without the need to submit a planning application.  There are transitional arrangements which retain the effect of the permitted development right based on the classes that were in place prior to 1 September 2020.  A building or use will, therefore, continue to be subject to any permitted development rights that it was entitled to on or before 31 August 2020. These transitional provisions will remain in place until 31 July 2021 when the government has indicated new revised permitted development rights will be introduced.

There is, evidently, a lot to go into with all of these changes but for now I will just summarise key changes which may be of interest to householders.  A new PD right in Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the GDPO (which relates to development within the curtilage of a dwelling house) will allow existing houses which are detached, semi-detached or in a terrace to be extended upwards to provide additional living accommodation space by constructing additional storeys.  This allows some houses to add two storeys and single storey houses to construct an additional storey.  There are, of course, several conditions/allowances including (but not limited to):

  • The right being applicable to houses built after 1 July 1948 or before 28 October 2018;
  • Engineering operations necessary for the construction are allowed;
  • Maximum height limit of 18 metres (where in a terrace it cannot be more than 3.5m higher than the next tallest house in the terrace);
  • Windows cannot be installed in a wall or roof slope of a side elevation of additional storeys built under the right;
  • External appearance of the materials must be similar to existing;
  • Homes extended cannot be in use as a small house in multiple occupation (or change to that use);
  • The right does not apply in certain designated areas such as conservation areas.

As with all things – it sounds great, on paper.  Despite this, you cannot just get on and build.  Whilst planning permission may not be required, it is still subject to a prior approval matters where the Local Planning Authority is required to consider certain matters such as impacts on neighbours and design).  The Council must also notify adjoining owners/occupiers of the proposed development.  This is an eight-week decision period, if the Council do not determine within this time it does not provide a default deemed consent (as with some other prior notification routes) but the applicant may appeal on the basis on non-determination.

In all there are a large number of changes which are ahead which may be of benefit to those with empty commercial properties, householders seeking extensions or those with commercial properties seeking change of use.  Even more reason to check what your options are!