Thursday, 18 July 2013
And now – A1 to C3?
NOTE: There have been significant changes to the law since this blog post was published, and so the material printed below does not accurately reflect the current position. For completely up-to-date and fully comprehensive coverage of this topic, 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.
Planning officers who are worried about the recently introduced rules allowing change of use from B1(a) (office use) to C3 (residential use), will soon have more to worry about. The government is preparing proposals to allow conversion of “some” retail floorspace (I don’t know yet what sort of premises might be involved) to residential use.
The spin put on it by Uncle Eric at a recent conference, when he foreshadowed these proposals, referred to “dormant out-of-date offices, empty shops and boarded up buildings”, which he intends to turn into new homes. He believes this will bring life back to town centres. Some town planners might not agree. Would it really strengthen the ‘vitality and viability’ of shopping centres, or just produce more dead frontage? No doubt primary retail frontages will be excluded, and we shall have to see the detail of De-CLoG’s proposals before we can understand the possible impact, and (perhaps more important for our day-to-day work) precisely how the new PD rights will work in practice. One can only hope that they will be less ambiguous than those set out in the recent amendment to the GPDO in May.
Pickles also seems to have wittered on in the same speech about “giving rural communities new power to turn old barns and outhouses into new homes and businesses”, which he claims will boost the rural economy whilst protecting the open countryside from development. The recent changes to the GPDO definitely do not permit change of use of agricultural buildings to residential, so is the government seriously proposing to make it possible to do this in future? We shall have to see what emerges in the promised consultation document, which is promised before the end of this month, and then in the resulting amending legislation – in the form of yet another amendment to the GPDO.
If the GPDO is to be amended yet again, maybe this would be a good opportunity for De-CLoG to sort out the muddle in paragraph N of their amending order in May, so as to drop the requirement that the LPA should “have regard to the NPPF as if the application were a planning application” and make it clear that the only considerations to be taken into account are those relating to any transport and highways impacts of the development and any contamination risks or flooding risks on the site. Otherwise, why make these changes of use permitted development at all?
© MARTIN H GOODALL