Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Raft of change-of-use development rights come into force in England on 30 May

The date for a raft of new permitted development rights to come into force in England, including office to residential conversions and larger domestic extensions, has been set at 30 May 2013. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the go ahead for the controversial changes by laying secondary legislation that amends the GPDO 1995.

Having been forced to introduce a ‘light touch’ neighbour consultation process for domestic extensions that exceed the old permitted development rights, following a revolt by both MPs and peers, Pickles still faces widespread opposition from local authorities that failed to win exemption from his office conversion policy.

It has emerged that applications for opt outs from the office conversion policy included 30 of the 33 London boroughs, seven of the eight largest English cities, and hundreds of individual local authority employment zones around the country. In the event, the DCLG has allowed just 17 exemptions, including 11 central London boroughs.

Change of use relaxations coming into force are:
  • New permitted development rights will allow change of use from offices B1(a) to homes (C3) to provide new homes in existing buildings. The exemptions announced are the City of London and the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham and Kensington and Chelsea, and areas within the Vale of White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford, Sevenoaks, East Hampshire and Manchester City Council.
  • New retail ventures, financial and professional services, restaurants, cafes and businesses will be able to open for up to two years in buildings designated as A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 or D2 classes (shops, financial services, restaurants, pubs, hot food takeaways, business, non-residential institutions, leisure and assembly).
  • Thresholds for permitted development rights for change of use from B1 (business) or B2 (general industry) to B8 (storage and distribution) classes and from B2 (general industry) or B8 (storage and distribution) to B1 (business) will increase from 235m2 to 500 m2.
  • To promote free schools, premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions, and leisure and assembly will be able to change use permanently to a state-funded school. For one academic year, buildings in any use class will be able to be used as a state-funded school.
  • Existing agricultural buildings under 500 m2 can change to a number of other business uses. For buildings between 150 m2 and 500 m2, prior approval is required to ensure that the change of use does not create unacceptable impacts, such as noise or transport problems.
The government is still planning to consult in the summer on further relaxations to allow empty shops and agricultural buildings to convert to homes.

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