On 3 December 2020, the Government published a consultation document outlining initial proposals for changes to permitted development following the introduction of the new Use Classes Order (UCO) which was brought into effect early this year which is open for comments up until 28 January.
The consultation document cites several proposed alterations and comes as a logical extension/ consolidation of permitted development rights following the new UCO. Relevant to many of our readers is that the consultation is proposing to keep many of the existing rights such as those that allow Office to Residential conversions but also to broaden these rights out to include the entirely of the new use Class E.
Class E encompasses Commercial, Business and Services and was introduced from 1 September 2020. The new Class E is much broader and covers uses previously defined in the revoked UCO as Class A1 (Shops), A2 (Financial and professional services), A3 (Food and drink), B1 (Business – including Offices, R&D and Light Industry), D1 (a-b) (Non-residential institutions Including any medical or health services and a crêche, day nursery or day centre) as well as D2 (e) (indoor sport).
The consultation is proposing to allow the change of use of any building within Class E to residential. It is not proposed that there will be any size limit on the buildings that will be allowed to change use. This will allow for either the whole building or part of the building to be converted to residential use but, in order to qualify for this PD right, the premises must have been in use within Use Class E on 1 September 2020.
As the consultation document points out, Use Class E applies everywhere in all cases, not just on the high street or in town centres. At this stage, the Government are proposing that this permitted development right will not apply in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and World Heritage Sites, as well as to buildings in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), or which are listed buildings or within their curtilage, sites that are (or contain) scheduled monuments, or are in safety hazard areas or military explosives storage areas, as well as sites subject to an agricultural tenancy.
Interestingly, this proposed PD right would not exclude conservation areas, although there would be a requirement for prior approval of the impact of the loss of the ground floor use to residential in a conservation area.
Similar to the existing rights, there would be a range of matters requiring prior approval. In addition to flooding, transport impacts and contamination which are already assessed, additional considerations are proposed including:
- the impacts of noise from existing commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development,
- fire safety (to ensure consideration and plans to mitigate risk to residents from fire)
- impact on the intended occupiers from the introduction of residential use in an area the LPA considers is important for heavy industry and waste management.
- Development must comply with nationally prescribed space standards
Clearly this is only a consultation at this stage, but it does show a direction of travel from the Government. It is the intention that, subject to the outcome of the consultation, the new permitted development rights will come into effect from 1 August 2021.
If you have further questions, or to discuss a specific building or site please don’t hesitate to contact us for a no obligation consultation to discuss your project.