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Permitted development rights under review

15 Apr 2019

Certain developments do not require full planning permission to be granted as it is granted under “permitted development” rights.  Permitted development rights (or “PD”) are currently contained in the Town and County Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015.

The scope of PD rights has been widened by the Government over several years as they seek to boost housing supply and reinvigorate town centres – infamously, the right to change the use of offices to residential was introduced and many town centres have subsequently seen significant redevelopment and re-purposing of surplus office capacity.

A further series of amendments to existing PD rights were recently announced by James Brokenshire MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) as part of the Government’s Spring Statement.  In summary, these include:

  • a new PD right allowing for a broad range of A1-A4 use classes to change use to B1 (business);
  • a new PD right allowing for hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential (C3) ;
  • existing PD rights that allow the temporary change in use of shops, financial, cafes, takeaways, pubs etc. to temporary flexible uses will be extended from two to three years;
  • new PD rights to extend certain existing buildings upwards (this will require prior approval from the local planning authority, likely including  consideration of amenity and design elements);
  • the temporary right to build larger single storey rear extensions will be made permanent; and
  • removal of PD rights for the installation of telephone kiosks.

The Government has also announced that it will carry out a review of the quality of housing being delivered through office to residential conversions permitted under PD rights.  Currently, neither national nor local space standards apply to such conversions, which can result in cramped living space. A review of this is long overdue. A relatively simple means of improving the quality of space delivered by PD rights would be to impose a condition that such conversions comply as a minimum with the Nationally Described Space Standards.

The subject of removing the PD rights relating to telephone kiosks has gained some publicity, fuelled by the suggestion that electronic communication companies have been misusing these rights in order to erect kiosks for the sole purpose of selling them as advertising space.  Many local authorities are challenging PD rights, and hundreds of ‘prior approval’ appeals being made to the Planning Inspectorate has resulted in a significant burden on its resources; in these days of the ubiquitous mobile phone, it’s difficult to think of a genuine telephonic requirement for so many kiosks!

Further reforms to PD rights are expected in two tranches over the course of 2019.

If you are looking for advice in respect of any planning matter, our unique team of chartered planners and specialist planning lawyers will be happy to help.

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