Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Budget statement – more GPDO changes

As I have noted before, George Osborne loves to include planning announcements in his budget statements. Today’s written budget statement (published to coincide with the Chancellor’s budget speech in the Commons) promises a review of the General Permitted Development Order. After so many amendments over almost 20 years since it was first published in 1995 it certainly needs it. Dare one hope that some of the more opaque drafting to be found in parts of the Order might at last be clarified?

A number of us have noted that recent additions to the GPDO do not grant an automatic right to carry out permitted development, but involve a prior approval procedure which I described the other day as “planning permission-lite”. It seems that the government has recognised this, and intends to make what amounts to a three-tier system of planning consents a permanent feature of the planning system.

As the budget statement puts it, there are already and will continue to be, first, simple permitted development rights for small-scale changes, then prior approval rights for development requiring consideration of specific issues, and then planning permission for larger scale development. I am not convinced that there is likely in practice to be any significant difference between the second and third kind of consent so far as the applicant is concerned. There will still be hoops to jump through and the possibility of applications being turned down, with the consequent time and expense of going to appeal. I drew attention the other day to the wide discretion that LPAs would appear to have in practice to refuse prior approval of barn conversions, even though they now come (at least in theory) under the category of ‘permitted development’.

In addition, further extensions of permitted development rights are proposed. The government is going to consult on further changes of use to residential use, for example from warehouses (B8) and light industrial structures (B1(c)). They are also considering extra PD rights for commercial premises to allow the expansion of facilities such as car parks and loading bays within existing boundaries (although only “where there is little impact on local communities”, which suggests that this will be one of the changes that will be subject to a prior approval procedure).

One other idea that emerged from the Budget Statement was the suggestion that for people who want to build their own home, the government will consult on creating a new ‘Right to Build’, giving custom builders a right to a plot from councils, and a £150 million repayable fund to help provide up to 10,000 serviced plots for custom build. It will be interesting to see how what appears in effect to be a ‘reverse-compulsory purchase’ concept will work.



  1. A veritable post code lottery.

    More work for us all Martin!

  2. Martin,

    A 3 tier system is fine with me.
    As a small private developer, at least with the prior approval processes the LPA is constrained by how long they can take to deal with the application.
    A wise old planner told me years ago that the planning system relies on applicants running out of time or money and giving up on their plans.