Recent changes to permitted development rights and space standards for new dwelling houses

On 9 November 2020, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (“the 2020 Regulations”) were published. These 2020 Regulations make a number of changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“GPDO”). They came into force partly on 3 December 2020 with further parts coming into force on 1 January 2021, and fully on 6 April 2021.

The changes they bring are as follows:

  • New homes delivered through permitted development rights must meet nationally described space standards.
  • Extensions have been made to some of the temporary relaxations permitted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 6 April 2021, the changes will require that all new homes in England delivered through permitted development rights meet the nationally described space standards as published by the Department of Communities and Local Government on 27 March 2015.  The space standards start at 37m² of floorspace for a new one bed flat with a shower room and 39m² for a one bed flat with a bathroom, and increase to 61m² for a 2 bed. The space standards will not apply where prior approval has already been obtained, or where prior approval is obtained pursuant to an application submitted before 6 April 2021.

The second set of changes extend a number of temporary permitted development rights put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these temporary PD rights was to allow restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments to provide takeaway food until March 23 March 2021. Provided there is not a condition in a planning permission that prevents the premises’ use as a takeaway, the 2020 Regulations extend this period to 23 March 2022.

In addition, Class B of the GPDO permitted ‘any building operation consisting of the demolition of a building.’ The 2020 Regulations exclude the demolition of a concert hall, a live music venue or theatre from Class B. Instead, from 3 December 2020, the proposed demolition of such venues would need to be considered as part of a planning application. Although, this exemption has not been extended to other Sui Generis uses such as cinemas and bingo halls.

Further amendments include extensions to the permitted development right to hold a market by or on behalf of a local authority so that it applies until 23rd March 2022 and the rights of local authorities and health service bodies to carry out development on land owned, occupied or maintained by them for the purposes of addressing emergencies. The 2020 Regulations extend these rights to March 2022 and December 2021 respectively.

The 2020 Regulations  provide an incentive for any developers to submit their prior approval schemes (where there is concern that they may fall short of the national space standards) as soon as possible. Having said that, and putting space standards to one side, the extensions implemented should go some way to boosting England’s economy throughout the pandemic by further deregulation  large-scale building projects and encouraging a more flexible use of existing premises.

There is however perhaps an even more newsworthy change to permitted development rights coming down the track. This can be found in the form of a consultation on allowing a change from new Class E (commercial, business and services) of the Use Classes Order to Class C3 (residential) without the need for planning permission. The consultation, available here, launched on 3 December 2020 and will run until 28 January 2021, and we would predict a high level of engagement on what is likely to be a very contentious proposal given the breadth of new Class E.

For more information please contact Stuart Willis in the Planning Team.

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