Friday, 28 June 2013

B1(a) to C3 – an early example

NOTE: For completely up-to-date and fully comprehensive coverage of the changes of use that are now authorised by the GPDO, and the way in which these are (or should be) handled by Local Planning Authorities, we would strongly recommend readers to obtain a copy of the author’s new book on the subject - ”A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PERMITTED CHANGES OF USE” published by Bath Publishing in October 2015. You can order your copy by clicking on the link on the left-hand sidebar of this page.

I happened to spot the following item among pending planning applications in Bristol the other day:

Prior approval for the change of use from detached three storey building currently as 3 separate self contained office units on lower, ground and first floors from office space within Use Class B1(a) to two-bedroom apartment on lower ground floor, and 2-bed apartment on ground floor of residential accommodation falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses)

The application was put in the post on 10 June, was received by the LPA on 13 June and registered by them on the 14th, so congratulations to both the applicant and the LPA for being so quick off the mark on this one. No application form was available, so the applicant simply wrote a letter setting out the required information and enclosing the necessary plans. This is all that is required, so the LPA quite rightly treated it as a valid application and immediately registered it.

The application does not fit neatly into the new scheme – it is not a one-for-one change of use, so it will be interesting to see how the LPA deals with it; but (knowing the site myself) I would be a bit surprised if anyone objects.

Multiple conversions to form a group of apartments, or a block of flats, might be more problematic, so other cases may be less straightforward than this one seems to be. There could in fact be quite a rush of these applications over the next three months, especially where multiple conversions are involved, in view of the introduction of the £80 application fee on 1st October.

UPDATE (4.7.13): News is reaching me of various applications for change of use from offices to residential use that have been made over the past month to a number of different LPAs around the country. One eager and very efficient developer even managed to get their application in on 31st May! So we should begin to learn within the next few weeks how a range of different councils are handling these applications. The 56-day period will expire on the very earliest application on 26 July, and the others in the pipeline will fall due during August. It looks as though there will then be an increasing number of others following these in the months to come. There will be no prize for the first LPA that lets one of these applications through by default by failing to determine it within the time limit.


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