Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Catching up

Readers will have noticed that three weeks have passed since I last posted anything here, when I reported the arrival of Andrew Hignett as a member of our Planning Law Team; and the last substantive post on a planning issue was three weeks before that. Three of those weeks were taken up with final completion of my forthcoming book (“A Practical Guide to Permitted Changes of Use”) of which I hope to post further details shortly. The remaining time was accounted for by a much needed holiday.

It seems to be an immutable Law of Nature that whenever I go away for more than a week or so, the government seizes the opportunity to rush out major announcements of forthcoming changes to planning law and procedure, and so it proved this time. I will comment on the government’s proposals in due course, although what has been announced so far is a bit light on detail.

Not yet formally announced, but widely anticipated, is the further amendment of the GPDO so as to make permanent the PD right for the residential conversion of offices under Part 3, Class O of the Second Schedule to the GPDO, which is currently due to expire towards the end of May next year. These further changes should occasion no surprise, as they were canvassed in some detail in last year’s consultation paper. It is only their timing that has remained in doubt, and my guess is that an amendment Order will be made so as to come into force at the beginning of October.

Those who followed my various posts on short term lets in Greater London will be aware by now that, following the re-election of a Conservative government, sections 44 and 45 of the Deregulation Act 2015 duly took effect on 26 May so as to allow the short-term letting of dwellings in Greater London, which had previously been restricted by the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973. There had been a possibility that a different election result might have led to the new provisions not taking effect, but now that we are living in a Tory paradise nothing can stop the government doing exactly what they like.

There are various other matters, including some judicial decisions, that may merit comment as soon as I have the chance to write them up, and I rather hope that I can now update this Blog more frequently than I have managed to do in the past couple of months. The same applies to the rather large backlog of comments that are awaiting moderation and publication.



  1. Martin, thank you firstly for such a wonderful and informative blog - I am looking forward to reading your book!

    If you were to guess when the amendment Order for the PD right for the residential conversion of offices was to be made, what would you say? Lenders have already stopped financing these projects due to the current May deadline, so quite a few of these are now stalling.


  2. Best guess at the moment is some time in September, effective early October, but the proposals have hit choppy waters, with some heavyweight opposition from the likes of City of London and City of Westminster. Ministers are rumoured to have taken it back for a re-think, which might delay it. On the other hand, the looming May deadline must surely persuade the government of the need to deal with this sooner rather than later (for the reason Nathan mentions). I suspect that what might emerge is an amending order in September with slightly watered down changes, i.e. leaving out some of the rather more radical ideas that have been floating around, and we might even see the exempted areas left as they are (whereas the government had proposed to do away with these).