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New permitted development rights now in force

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2014 came into force on 6 April 2014, extending the General Permitted Development Order ("GPDO") to allow additional changes in use without the need for planning permission. The changes follow a consultation launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government in August 2013, and aim to support key government priorities for making better use of existing buildings, supporting the high street and rural communities, providing new housing, developing more free schools and contributing to the provision of child care for working families.

The changes can be summarised as follows:

  • New Class CA allows a shop to be used by financial organisations authorised to take deposits, including banks, building societies, credit unions and friendly societies.
  • New Class IA permits buildings used for shops and financial and professional services to be changed to residential use, together with building operations reasonably necessary for such conversion.
  • Class K is amended to allow buildings used as offices, hotels, residential institutions, secure residential institutions or assembly and leisure to be converted to nurseries.
  • New Class MA permits the conversion of buildings used for agricultural purposes to a state-funded school or nursery.
  • New Class MB allows agricultural buildings to be converted to a maximum of 3 dwellings, together with building operations reasonably necessary for such conversion.

The new permitted development rights are subject to numerous conditions and restrictions, including limits on the floor space that may be converted and prohibitions where the building is listed or forms part of a site of special scientific interest.

Additionally, for Classes IA, MA and MB, developers will have to apply to their local planning authority ("LPA") for a determination as to whether the LPA's prior approval is needed on a number of issues. These include transport and highways, noise, contamination and flooding. Prior approval may be granted unconditionally or subject to conditions, or the LPA may even require a formal planning application to be made.

Whilst many will recoil in horror at the about turn in respect of policy on dwellings in the countryside, the new system is anything but simple. Given the numerous restrictions on the new rights and the possibility of LPAs continuing to exercise substantial control via the prior approval system, it remains essential to properly analyse any plans for a change in use.