Monday, 29 April 2019

Further changes to Permitted Development

I have not commented recently on the current and future prospects for permitted development. To summarise briefly, in Part 3 of the Second Schedule to the GPDO, the government has announced that it will not now be further extending Class P (residential conversion of storage buildings which have been in B8 use) when it expires in June of this year. Class PA (residential conversion of light industrial buildings which have been in use within Use Class B1(c)) is due to expire next year, and my perception is that this too is unlikely to be extended.

As regards other PD (and related provisions in the Use Classes Order), following a consultation exercise which ended in January, the government proposes to amend Use Class A1 (shops) so as to embrace a wider range of permitted uses and ancillary uses. They also intend to introduce a new permitted development right to allow shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, payday loan shops and launderettes to change use to an office (B1) and to allow hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential use (C3).

The current temporary change of use in Part 4, Class D will be extended from two to three years and its scope will be enlarged to enable more community uses within this Class of PD.

Although it remains controversial, the government intends to press ahead with a permitted development right to allow upward extensions of certain existing buildings in commercial and residential use, although this will not go ahead immediately.

Larger residential extensions under Part 1 are to be made permanent, but they will be subject to a fee increase.

The government appears to be responding to recently expressed concern regarding the size and quality of residential accommodation being created under Class O (and presumably also under Classes M and N), and will now consider these issues, with a view to possible amendments to introduce a greater measure of regulation for these developments. [I will comment below on recently-announced Labour Party policy on this issue.]

The government, however, has not yet given up on its idea of a PD right that would allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with residential development, although it is clear that any such change is not imminent.

Finally, as predicted following recent litigation on the issue, the government intends to remove the permitted development right under Part 16 and associated deemed consent under the Control of Advertisements Regulations in respect of new telephone kiosks.

Those changes that the government has definitely decided to bring forward are promised “in the Spring” (although seasons are a very flexible concept where government is concerned!). The more complex [for which read “controversial/difficult”] matters, including upward extensions, have been pencilled in for the “the Autumn”. [UPDATE: The first tranche of GPDO amendments was made on 1 May, and comes into effect on 25 May. See the blog post above dated 8 May 2019.]

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have announced an intention (if or when they return to power) to put an end to PD under Class O (residential conversion of office buildings which have been in use within Use Class B1(a)). Offhand, I don’t know whether they also intend to bring to an end PD under Class Q, or any other Classes that involve residential conversions, or other changes of use of agricultural buildings, but if a Labour government were to put an end to Class O it is quite likely that they would also cancel Class Q and maybe certain other PD rights.

Before this could happen, of course, there would have to be a General Election (not currently due until 2022, unless the current mess over Brexit results in an earlier election). However, Labour would have to win that election, which is by no means certain; another hung parliament cannot be ruled out.

As with so much else at the moment, much of what is mentioned above will depend on the outcome of the parliamentary battles over Brexit, and any political fall-out that might ensue from events in parliament in the next few weeks and months.

The government has clearly decided not to risk putting “the Deal” before parliament again before this week’s local elections (where the Tory Party is variously predicted to lose 500, 800, or even a thousand councillors, not to mention control of quite a few local authorities).

There appears to be continuing uncertainty over the government’s next move, although introduction of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the next week or two seems to be the most likely way forward. But in the absence of agreement with the Labour Party, this remains a risky step to take. If the Bill were to be defeated on Second Reading, the government might be forced to bring the present parliamentary session to an end (which was in any event due to expire in May), and re-introduce the Bill in the next session of parliament, which would then commence more or less immediately. No.10’s hope, however, would appear to be that they could squeak through on Second Reading, in which case they intend to continue the present session of parliament until the Autumn if necessary, while the Bill continues its passage through both houses.

This makes our participation in the elections for the European Parliament on 23 May unavoidable, as there is zero chance of getting the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through all its stages by 22 May (although the government appears then to be thinking of 30 June as a fall-back date, to avoid the new MEPs having to take their seats at the beginning of July). Having got through Second Reading (if they do), the government would no doubt introduce a timetable motion (the “guillotine”) in an attempt to curtail debate on the Bill, but this may well be opposed, and might be defeated, leading to a long parliamentary battle over the detailed provisions of the Bill.

A sound ‘drubbing’ for the government in both the local elections and the European elections three weeks later could precipitate a political earthquake within the Tory Party, and there is no knowing what might then happen. Labour may be tempted to try their luck with another No Confidence motion in the Commons, and a General Election could not then be ruled out.

So the future of Permitted Development may well be at the mercy of much larger political forces, and I for one am certainly not venturing any predictions as to the eventual outcome.



  1. You mention a fee increase for large domestic extensions do you know by how much? Currently there is no fees

  2. What will be the fee increase for large extensions as at present there is no fees payable

    1. I wondered how long it would be before someone asked this question.

      At the time of writing, no amendment has yet been made to the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012, but the imposition of a fee can be expected at some stage in the not too distant future. It just depends how long it takes MHCLG to get around to amending the Fees Regs.

  3. Just wondering if you caught the excellent broadcast on Radio 4 yesterday highlighting the appalling abuse of office-to-residential PD rights. Here's a link, in case you missed it: ('My Name Is... Immie')

    1. I regret that I missed this programme. Getting onto i-Player involves registering, and I can’t be bothered with the faff.

      I am not surprised, however, to hear of further evidence of the abuse of PD rights for office-to-residential conversions. Clearly action is required to prevent such abuses, and the government seems to accept this. However, the wheels in MHCLG turn at a glacial pace, and so we may have to wait a while, first for the outcome of the government’s review (even though most people could write the conclusions for them already!), and then for an amendment to Class O.

      The simplest solution would be to impose a minimum floorspace requirement for each residential unit, and it may also be advisable to add to the list of matters requiring prior approval, to ensure that appropriate amenity standards are met.

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