Further changes to Permitted Development Rights could change the face of Britain’s Highstreets

Three months ago we reported on changes the Government was making to Permitted Development Rights – which we defined at the time as a right to make certain changes to a building, permission for which is not granted by the local authority, but automatically by Parliament itself.

The extent of those permissions is outlined under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 and the Government is consulting again to make further changes – allowing more types of development to take place without local authority scrutiny.

They seek the views of interested parties on five new permitted development types:

  1. shops and financial and professional services to change use to a dwelling house
  2. existing buildings used for agricultural purposes of up to 150 square metres to change to residential use
  3. retail uses to change to banks and building societies only
  4. premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions, and leisure and assembly to be able to change use to nurseries providing childcare
  5. a building used for agricultural purposes of up to 500 square metres to be used as a new state funded school or a nursery providing childcare

Subject to this response, the Government expects to bring these changes into being in April 2014 and the reasoning, particularly for points 1 & 2, lies in Britain’s empty homes problem. Nick Boles MP, Planning Minister, commented:

“Thousands of empty and underused buildings, often on the edge of town centres, are going to waste because people do not want the hassle and uncertainty of submitting a planning application.

“Removing this barrier will bring more people closer to their town centres, providing a much needed boost to local shops and ensuring we make the most of buildings that are already there for new homes, nurseries and schools this country needs.

“Extending these permitted development rights on brownfield land will benefit all communities – whether in towns or the countryside.”

Like the first amendments back in June, the changes will likely meet with some substantial discord from stakeholders believing the changes will encourage and speed the deterioration of high streets from thriving centres of commerce to quiet residential streets. Proponents, however, will point to over 700,000 empty buildings in England and assert that something must be done.

The consultation – Greater Flexibilities for Change of Use – is open to absolutely anyone with an interest in the proposals. The document is available here, with details on how to respond included.

SRJ / LCB                                                                                                       21/08/2013



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