Bernadette Hillman and Christos Paphiti outline the new permitted development right and what it means for the property sector and planners
The Government has introduced a new Permitted Development (PD) right in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Amendment Order 2021.
It will allow for a change from a variety of town centre uses to residential use
The new right
Class MA is a new permitted development right to change the use of a building and any land within its curtilage, from Class E (commercial, business or service purposes) to residential use, subject to a prior approval application, which can be made at any time from 1st August 2021.
There are some limitations:
- The Class E building must have been vacant for at least three months before the prior approval application.
- The building must have been in Class E use (and before that any of old classes A1 – Shops; A2 – Financial and Professional Services; A3 – Restaurants and Cafes; B1 – Business; or D1(a), D1(b), or D2(e) – non-residential Institutions, assembly and leisure) for at least two years before the application
- There is a floorspace limit of 1,500 square metres.
- Note that Article 4 directions already in place, preventing changes of use from office to residential under Class O will still have effect until 31 July 2022 and we would expect more Article 4 directions to follow suit.
Reasons for refusing prior approval
Aside from the floorspace threshold limit, local planning authorities will be able to refuse applications on limited but important grounds, including:
- Transport Impacts, particularly to ensure safe site access;
- Contamination risks;
- Flood risks;
- Noise impact from other commercial premises;
- Where the building is in a conservation area and the development involves a change of use to the ground floor, which would impact on the character/sustainability of the conservation area;
- Inadequate natural light in all habitable rooms;
- Impact on occupiers of the introduction of residential use in an area important for general or heavy industry, waste management, storage and distribution; and/or
- Where the development involves the loss of a nursery/health centre, which would have an impact on the type of service lost to the local area.
Bernadette Hillman is a partner and Christos Paphiti a trainee solicitor at Sharpe Pritchard LLP
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