Wednesday, 12 March 2014
Permitted Development changes – shops and barns
As several readers have noted, Nick Boles’ written Commons statement last week announcing the launch of the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) also referred to the proposed changes to permitted development rights that are expected to be made within the next few weeks, including the right to convert agricultural buildings to residential use (barn conversions) and the conversion of shops and High Street offices to dwellings.
As regards change of use from retail to residential use, Boles confirmed that the proposed changes to the GPDO will allow change of use from shops (A1) and financial and professional services (A2) to houses (C3). However, this change of use will not apply to land protected by Article 1(5) of the GPDO (National Parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas or World Heritage Sites).
It is also clear from Boles’ statement that there will be a prior approval procedure that will enable councils to resist a change of use where they consider it important to retain adequate provision of services that are essential to the local community, such as post offices. It would appear that LPAs will be able to take account of the impact on local services when considering the potential loss of a particular shop. The onus will be on the LPA to establish that the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the sustainability of a key shopping area or on local services, should they wish to refuse the conversion, but this makes it clear that this new permitted development right will be far from automatic, and may well be strongly resisted by some authorities, either generally or in particular locations. When considering the effect on local services LPAs will be expected to take into account whether there is a reasonable prospect of the premises being occupied by another retailer, and they will need to have robust evidence to justify any decision not to permit a change of use using these prior approval tests. Nonetheless, aspiring developers may well have to take their prior approval applications to appeal where the LPA is resisting change.
In addition, the new permitted development rights will include change of use from shops (A1) to banks, building societies, credit unions and friendly societies, within Use Class A2 (but this would not allow a change of use to use as a betting shop or payday loan shop).
Turning to change of use from agricultural to residential use, up to 450 square metres of agricultural buildings on a farm will be capable of being changed to provide a maximum of three houses. However, Boles has confirmed the restriction foreshadowed in the adjournment debate on 24 February, whereby this change of use will not apply in Article 1(5) land, which (as noted above) will have the effect of excluding such development not only in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but also in the Broads, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.
As in other cases, these developments will be subject to a prior approval process, and among the issues to be considered in that context will be the risk of flooding.
These changes will also extend the existing permitted development rights for change of use to state-funded schools to additionally cover registered nurseries. Agricultural buildings up to 500 square metres will also be able to change to state-funded schools and registered nurseries.
NOTE: There have been significant changes to the law since this blog post was published, and so the material printed here (including the appended comments) does not accurately reflect the current position. For completely up-to-date and fully comprehensive coverage of this subject, we would strongly recommend readers to obtain a copy of the author’s new book - “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.
© MARTIN H GOODALL