Permanent Office to Residential Rights Confirmed

By Rhian Harris

Following the initial announcement back in October 2015, the Government has finally confirmed that the permitted development rights for the change of use from office to residential - which were introduced on a temporary basis in May 2014 – were made permanent on 6 April 2016.

The amendment to Class O (Office to Residential) of the General Permitted Development Order also includes a new condition which allows Local Planning Authorities to consider noise impacts on the intended occupants as part of the prior approval application.

In a letter to lobby group UK Music, planning minister Brandon Lewis explained that the new test “Will help to ensure that before residents move into new housing in close proximity to well established businesses, including music venues, local authorities are able to require the applicant to put in place noise mitigation measures where appropriate.” He added: “This is a positive measure which will ensure that where the right allows the delivery of much needed new homes, local authorities are able to protect well-established music venues from having unreasonable restrictions placed on their operations.” This sentiment clearly applies to other town centre and business uses.

Other amendments to Class O mean that developers will have up to three years to implement the change of use following the issue of the prior approval decision. The current exemption for article 2(5) will also cease on 30 May 2019, following which LPAs will need to issue article 4 directions to withdraw the Class O rights.

Additional Amendments

In addition to the permanent office to residential rights, the General Permitted Development Order 2016 also includes the following new permitted development rights for change of use to residential:-

1. Change of use from launderettes to residential:

Class M of the Order has been extended to include the change of use from launderettes to residential uses. This right will be subject to the prior approval process that will allow councils to assess the impact of changes on the “adequate provision” of such services.

2. Temporary change of use from light industrial to residential:

The proposed temporary right to change a building in light industrial use (up to 500m2) to residential under Class PA, will come into force from 1 October 2017 for a period of three years (30 September 2020). Any development will be subject to the prior approval process in order to assess transport, contamination and flood risk impacts. In addition, where the site is considered to be within an important employment area (industrial, storage or distribution) the Council will need to consider any adverse impacts on the sustainability of the continued operation of the area for these purposes.

Whilst the above amendments appear to show the Government’s strong commitment to ensuring the delivery of much needed new homes through permitted development rights, it is noted that the rights will be subject to periodic review, with a commitment to a first review by 2021. This obligation to review would suggest that the new and amended rights may still be time sensitive.

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Published: 14/04/2016


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