Thursday, 10 November 2016

This year’s Seminar - last chance to book

It is only just a week to our seminar at the RIBA in Portland Place (London W1), so time is now very short in which to book your place, and get a complementary copy of the Second Edition of A Practical Guide to Permitted Changes of Use within this price. This package really is an excellent bargain, and it would be difficult to find better value for a CPD event. Just click on the button in the left-hand margin to place your order. [If you are using a smart phone to read this, or if you have an out-of-date or unsupported browser, and the book/seminar ordering details are not displayed on your side-bar, an easy alternative is to go onto Bath Publishing’s website at and click on the links on that site to access the booking details.]

If there is anyone who is holding off from buying the Second Edition in the hope of buying a third edition later, I should make it clear that the Second Edition will probably remain current for two years or more, certainly for at least a year as a minimum. Planning professionals frankly cannot afford to be without the fully updated Second Edition now, which contains much additional material compared with the First Edition.

The possibility of further changes to the GPDO that would justify a third edition in the foreseeable future (such as the demolition and reconstruction of offices) is frankly negligible. As I observed in a recent blog post, I do not take a mere footnote in an obscure press release at a party conference, which happened to mention the demolition of offices, as indicating any serious intention on the part of ministers to pursue this. It strikes me as “a bridge too far”, and would be simply too difficult to shoe-horn into the structure of the GPDO without stretching the concept of permitted development beyond any sensible limits. Rather than a prior approval that would be required for a whole host of extra issues, this type of development clearly needs to be dealt with by means of an application for full planning permission, and to be considered and determined in accordance with the full range of material considerations that apply to the determination of planning applications.

Just a final reminder of the subject matter of the Seminar: Last year we focused on barn conversions; this year we are looking more closely at the residential conversion of offices - both the legal framework and some of the practical issues that need to be addressed. We will also be touching on various recent changes in the legislation, as well as judgments and appeal decisions relating to permitted changes of use.

Among new material in the Second Edition of the book, the Orange Communications case is discussed in relation to the effective law applying to a prior approval (paragraph 1.6 in Chapter 1) and also in relation to a change in the GPDO or in a designation, such as a Conservation Area, after prior approval but before implementation (paragraph A.10 in Appendix A). There is a useful note on the treatment of residential conversions for the purposes of VAT (paragraph 5.0.1 in Chapter 5); the addition of the conversion of launderettes is covered in Part 5.2 of Chapter 5; the changes that have been made to Class O (residential conversion of offices) will be found in Chapter 7; and the residential conversion of light industrial buildings under Class PA is described and explained in the new Part 8.2 of Chapter 8.

The new provision as to the registration of prior approval applications is outlined in paragraph 14.0 of Chapter 14, and there is additional discussion on the use of conditions in paragraph 14.5 of Chapter 14, including the future restrictions on the imposition of pre-commencement conditions in a Note appended to that paragraph. A new section on the removal or variation of conditions in light of the Pressland judgment will be found in paragraph 14.5.1 of Chapter 14. Additional discussion of the requirement to notify the applicant of the LPA’s decision on a prior approval application is included in paragraph 15.5 of Chapter 15, and changes to the rules about the temporary use of land or buildings for film-making are covered in Chapter 18.

There is also important new material in the discussion of preclusive conditions in paragraph A.5 of Appendix A in light of the High Court judgment in Dunnett Investments, and an entirely new Appendix D which discusses in detail the issue of structural alterations in relation to residential conversions, especially under Class Q. This is not to mention the numerous appeal decisions that have been added to the text (now with their appeal reference numbers in most cases) and a number of other new judgments, such as Pratt (on evidence as to agricultural use), the East Herts case (on sustainability of location) and Pressland (mentioned above, on conditions), among a number of others.

So if you think you can get by without the Second Edition, think again! And you will gain even more benefit from the new edition by attending the seminar next week. We look forward to seeing you there.



  1. Dominic Heath-Coleman11 November 2016 at 10:22

    Hello Martin,

    Not strictly related to this post, but I was wondering if anybody had brought your attention the recent High Court Judgement in Hibbitt & Anr v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anr. Case Number: CO/3360/2016. I think this could dramatically change the way LPAs are determining a lot of Class Q applications. Where before we have only been looking at the soundness of the structure of the building, particularly on steel portal frame buildings, we are now going to be far more interested in the amount of rebuilding necessary in terms of walls and roofs. I thought the implications of this judgement may be an area you are interested in commenting on in a future blog post.

    Kind regards,

    Dominic Heath-Coleman
    South Somerset District Council

  2. The claimant themselves very kindly sent me a copy of the transcript of this judgment recently.

    I have not yet had the chance to look at the judgment in detail, having been out of the office for most of the past week, but my first impression was that it simply confirms the position that is inherent in the wording of the Order itself. The building must be capable, in structural terms, of being converted. Substantial reconstruction is (and always has been) outside the permitted development allowed by Class Q. Where this issue is in dispute between the parties, it will inevitably boil down to “a matter of fact and degree”. This has always seemed to me to be self-evident from the legislative wording, and I said as much in the First Edition of the book.

    Where I still take issue with the ‘official’ view (as expressed in the revised wording in the online PPG, as published in March 2015) is with regard to the permissibility of purely internal alterations which should in principle (and in practice) be exempt from the definition of development by virtue of section 55(2)(a). I have analysed this issue in detail in the new Appendix D in the Second Edition of the book.

    This judgment comes too late for the Second Edition of the book but we will certainly refer to it at next week’s seminar. However, as I have indicated above, I am under the impression (subject to my looking at the case in more detail when I have a chance to do so over the coming weekend) that it is focused on the basic issue of ‘convertability’, but does not appear to address the precise extent of purely internal alterations that can be carried out in connection with a residential conversion, in reliance on section 55(2)(a).