At the end of March, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced new permitted development rules in England from 1st August to allow unused commercial properties to be converted to residential homes without requiring a planning application.
The legislation is intended to revitalise England’s high streets and town centres. From 1st August 2021, the new rights will allow properties that fall under any of the uses in Class E (Commercial, Business and Service) to be converted to residential use without needing planning permission.
From August, this type of change will only require prior approval. This involves limited consideration by the local planning authority. These considerations will include:
- Impacts of noise from commercial premises
- Provision of adequate natural light to all habitable rooms
- In conservation areas only – consideration of the impact of the loss of the ground floor Commercial, Business and Service use
- Impact of the loss of health centres and registered nurseries on the provision of such local services
- There will also be a vacancy requirement to ensure that the property changing use has been vacant for three months before the date of the application. This is in order to protect successful businesses on the premises.
- A size limit of 1,500 square metres of floorspace will be included. Only properties up to this size limit will be able to change use to focus the new permitted development rules on medium-sized high street sites which are more likely to be suitable for conversion.
- The building must have been in Commercial, Business and Service use for at least two years. prior to conversion.
The new permitted development rules will apply in Conservation Areas, but not in other protected land such as national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
For full details on the new rights, including implications for Article 4 directions and changes to permitted development rights in ports, read the government’s press release from March, or download the explanatory memorandum.