Those holding their breath for the office-to-residential permitted development right to be made permanent can now relax.
Permitted Development Rights allow developments to take place without the need to seek full planning permission. In 2013, rights were granted to change the use of office building into housing, subject to a process seeking the approval of the Council on very limited grounds. That right was limited for a three year period and was due to expire in May. With little time to spare before the May deadline, regulations have now been laid before parliament setting out the new permanent right, as well as a number of other amendments and new rights to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
Under the permanent right, prior approval will still be required from the Council and the applicant will still have to prove that the building had an office use on 29 May 2013. A condition has been inserted allowing the Council to consider noise impacts on the intended occupants of the development from the premises in commercial use. Applicants will have three years to implement the change of use from the date of the prior approval.
Furthermore, new applications for prior approval made after 5 April 2016 will need to include a statement specifying the net increase in the number of dwelling houses proposed by the development. Those parts of the country, like Westminster, which benefit from an exemption from the right can keep it until 2019.
More dramatic changes mooted by the planning minister in October last year have not been followed through. Planning permission will still be required for any external alterations required to facilitate the change of use from office to residential. The suggestion that the right may extend to demolition and rebuilding looks like it may have to wait for the Housing and Planning Bill, if it sees the light of day at all.
For further details speak to Daniel or Jade or any other member of the planning team.