Three year permitted development right for change of use from light industrial to residential now live

The wait is over, the 'new' permitted development right allowing change of use from light industrial (use class B1(c)) to residential (use class C3) came into effect on 1 October 2017.

That has most likely caught some by surprise, as the change was signalled some time ago. It was included among the raft of PD changes that DCLG consulted on in the last two years, and was enacted by the PD amendment order of 2016 (here) which came into force on 6 April 2016 - see new use class PA.

However, new class PA was subject to a limitation that it would not apply to applications to use the new PD right received 'on or before' 30 September 2017. It is only temporary, lasting for a period of three years thanks to a further restriction providing that the prior approval date must not fall 'on or after' 1 October 2020.

Restrictions and limitations

As expected with PD rights, there are a number of other limitations and restrictions, the key ones being:

  • the building must have been used solely for a light industrial use on 19 March 2014 (or when it was last actually in use, if the use has ended). Evidence of this must be submitted with the prior approval application.
  • the gross floor space of the existing building cannot be more than 500 sqm.
  • if there is occupation under an agricultural tenancy, you must obtain the consent of the landlord and tenant. Further, familiar restrictions apply to situations where the tenancy is terminated less than one year before development begins.
  • it will not apply to: SSSIs, safety hazard areas, military explosive storage areas, listed buildings or buildings within the curtilage of a listed building, or where the site is or contains a scheduled monument.

Prior approval

Those wishing to use new class PA must first obtain prior approval. This should address issues of transport and highways impacts, contamination risk and flood risk, and also whether, if the authority considers that the building is in an area important for providing industrial services, the introduction of (or increase in) residential use would have an adverse impact on the sustainability of those services.

Lastly, should development receive prior approval, it must be completed within three years of the prior approval date.


To temper the excitement however, note that physical changes necessary for conservation works are not included in the PD right.

Equally, in the usual way an Article 4 direction can be employed by authorities to dis-apply this permitted development right, and the long lead in time for class PA was designed to give authorities time to do this where they thought it appropriate. Some authorities already have one in place, even if not immediately effective. For example the London Borough of Hackney has a borough wide Article 4 direction effective from 1 May 2018 and a brief search of a number of London Boroughs (Islington, Hammersmith and Fulham, Merton) reveals a similar pattern.

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