The planning use class system along with permitted development rights allows the change of use of buildings without the need for planning permission. The House of Commons has published a briefing paper setting out some recent and proposed changes to the system in England.
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as “use classes”. The categories give an indication of the types of use which may fall within each use class. There are four main categories:
•Class A covers shops and other retail premises such as restaurants and bank branches;
•Class B covers offices, workshops, factories and warehouses;
•Class C covers residential uses; and
•Class D covers non-residential institutions and assembly and leisure uses.
These categories are then further split up into a number of subclasses. Some uses do not fall within these specified classes and are called “sui generis”. A further regulation, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (the “2015 Order) grants what are called “permitted development rights”. These are a right to develop without the need to apply for planning permission, although in some cases “prior approval” may be needed. Under the 2015 Order planning permission is not needed for changes in use of buildings within each subclass and for certain changes of use between some of the classes. However in some circumstances local planning authorities can suspend permitted development rights in their area.
In 2015 betting and payday loan shops were moved into the “sui generis” category of use classes, meaning that a planning application is now necessary before a building can be converted into those uses. In May 2017 the former Government removed the permitted development rights which allowed pubs to change use or to be demolished.
The office to residential change of use permitted development right was originally a temporary three year permitted development right, but subsequent regulations have put this on a permanent footing from 6 April 2016. This has been controversial and concerns have been expressed about the impact on office rents and availability and on the quality and affordability of the housing produced.
Regulations will also come into force to allow for light industrial buildings to change use to housing from 1 October 2017. There are also proposals to grant further agricultural to residential change of use permitted development rights.
There are calls to give greater powers to local authorities to prevent change of use to betting shops in areas where there are already clusters of them. There are also calls to curb the change of use of shops into charity shops.
Our Commercial Property specialists have long experience of acting for both private and corporate landowners, developers, builders, and Housing Associations. Agricultural land acquisition and development is another area where our reputation is growing. With offices across Northamptonshire and Leicestershire in Northampton, Kettering, Corby, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough and Leicester we can meet you at a location convenient to you.
If you have any issues around planning, your first priority is to get advice and help from people who really know what they’re doing. Call our Commercial Property Team on 0800 088 6004.