A consultation on a new Permitted Development right
On 3 December 2020, the Government opened a consultation on the introduction of a new Permitted Development (“PD”) right that would enable landlords to change the use of their property from Class E (commercial, business and service uses) to Class C3 (residential uses). The proposed change reflects the Government’s desire to increase the development of new homes and will group together existing PD rights that already allow retail and financial offices to change to residential use. The consultation ended on 28 January 2021.
There are several key features to the Government’s proposed new PD right.
Premises will only benefit from the new PD right if they fell within Class E (commercial, business and services) on 1 September 2020.
Any new home built under the new PD right would need to meet certain quality requirements, including compliance with prescribed national space standards and adequate natural light.
In addition to the ordinary areas of exclusion (eg. military explosive storage areas, listed buildings and sites of special scientific interest), the consultation proposes that the new PD right will not apply to areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks, World Heritage Sites and areas specified by the Secretary of State for the purposes of s41(3) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Controversially, however, the Government has proposed that the new PD right will apply in conservation areas. Although unusual as far as PD rights are concerned, any proposed development would require approval from the local authority following an assessment on the impact of the loss of ground floor use on the conversation area.
Developers who build through PD rights are exempt from paying a community infrastructure levy (CIL). However, the consultation has asked whether an infrastructure levy (distinct from the CIL and first introduced in the Government’s 2020 Planning White Paper) should apply to the new PD right. Were the government to introduce the infrastructure levy for developments delivered through the new PD right, the impact on existing affordable housing provisions could be considerable – as might the financial impact on developers.
Prior approvals process
As with other PD rights, the consultation proposes that the following matters should fall for local consideration:
- risk of flooding;
- risk of contamination;
- the impacts of noise from existing commercial premises;
- provision of adequate natural light;
- fire safety; and
- the impact on heavy industry and waste management.
The change brought about by the new PD right could be significant, but for now we must wait to see the results of the consultation process.
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