The Government has been under pressure in recent weeks to respond to criticism in respect of both the planning system and housing delivery.

A consultation has been published which is framed as addressing both the efficacy of the planning system and delivery of the right homes in the right places in England.  

Amongst a number of proposals, including those that do not relate to housing, the Government proposes that the limit of 1500 m2 of Commercial, Business and Service Use (Class E) that can change its use to residential be doubled to 3000m2. In addition, it is suggested that the requirement that the unit be vacant for a continuous period of 3 months be removed. The current permitted development right is restricted to exclude what is known as Article 2(3) land except for Conservation Areas where it currently does apply. However, the Government is seeking views on whether this right should also apply in other protected landscapes such as areas of outstanding natural beauty, National Parks etc but considers that World Heritage Sites should be excluded. There is a suggestion that the requirement for prior approval in Conservation Areas may be removed or altered.  

Other specific proposals include:

  • New permitted development right for change of use from hotels, boarding houses and guest houses (Class C1) to dwellinghouse subject to some local safeguards such as a limit on the size of the floorspace.
  • Existing permitted development right for change of use from betting offices, pay day loan shops etc (Class M) to dwellinghouse and arcades, casinos etc (Class N) to dwellinghouse to double floorspace limit to 300m2.
  • Laundrettes to be removed from Class M so the permitted development right would no longer apply.
  • Classes M and N to be amended so that the date that a building becomes eligible for the permitted development right is changed from the use being in existence on 20 March 2013 for Class M and on 19 March 2014 for Class N to a two year rolling time period.
  • As with change of use from Class E to residential, it is proposed that Article 2(3) land might be included within the permitted development right save for World Heritage Sites.
  • Additional uses to be included in Class G to increase potential use of upper floors as residential including increasing the maximum number of flats from 2 to 4.
  • Simplification of Class Q (agricultural buildings to dwellings) to maximum floorspace of either 100m2 or 150m2 for each dwelling, increasing numbers from 5 to 10 and a maximum overall limit of 1000m2 including any dwellings previously developed under Class Q.
  • Article 2(3) land except World Heritage Sites to be included in Class Q.
  • Other rural buildings to be included within Class Q together with buildings that are no longer on agricultural units.

It is difficult to say whether these changes will result in any material increase in the amount of housing overall. No doubt responses to the consultation will produce examples where this may have assisted in bringing forward some development that might not have otherwise been carried out. What it doesn’t do is make the planning system simpler. Permitted development rights have become increasingly complex and these proposals do very little to change that.  Practitioners will be reaching for their copies of the GPDO just as much if not more than they currently do in order to establish what does and does not require planning permission, prior approval or nothing at all.

TLT has extensive experience in advising on planning matters. If you would like to discuss any planning issues, please get in touch with the team.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at July 2023. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

Written by

Katherine Evans

Katherine Evans

Date published

26 July 2023

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