Amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“the 2015 Order”) were laid before Parliament at the end of last week. The amending Order can be viewed here and it comes into force on Wednesday, 6 April 2016.

The amendments cover two main areas comprising further changes of use to Dwellinghouses (Use Class C3) as well as amendments in relation to minerals permitted development.

Changes of use to C3 Dwellinghouses

(i) Offices

On 13 October 2015 the Planning Minister issued a statement in relation to the temporary office to residential permitted development rights.  He announced that they were to be made permanent but with some significant amendments. My blog post of 14 October provided the details from that Government statement.

The Order issued in Parliament last week amends the existing Class O of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the 2015 Order to bring forward a number of changes to office to residential PD rights.

There are 17 local authorities that have areas which are exempt from the current office to residential permitted development rights.  Those areas are referred to as Article 2(5) land and are listed in Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the 2015 Order.  Those areas will remain exemption areas until 30 May 2019.  After that date LPAs will need to make an Article 4 Direction to remove the office to residential permitted development rights.

An applicant currently has to apply to the LPA for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required in relation to (i) transport and highways impacts of the development (ii) contamination risks on site and (iii) flooding risks on the site.  A new topic for determination has now been included (which was not referred to in the October 2015 statement) whereby when an applicant must apply to the LPA for a determination as to whether prior approval will be required in relation to the impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development. “Commercial Premises” are widely defined.

The permitted development right imposes a condition requiring that the change of use must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date.  The prior approval date is defined as (i) the date prior approval is given by the LPA, or (ii) the date a determination is made by the LPA that prior approval is not required, or (iii) the expiration of the time in which the LPA should have notified the applicant that prior approval is required, or is given, or is refused – currently 56 days from the date on which the LPA received the prior approval application.

A proposal set out in the October 2015 statement to widen the permitted development right to enable demolition of office buildings and the building of new residential developments has not been taken forward.

(ii) Launderettes

Class M of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the 2015 Order has been expanded to permit a building currently used as a launderette to change use to C3 dwellinghouse.  It will also permit building operations that are reasonably necessary to convert the building to be carried out.  Class M includes a number of restrictions on the use of the PD right and a number of conditions – these will also be applied to launderette changes of use.  Advance notice of this change was given in the October 2015 statement.

(iii) Light Industrial Use

A new 3 year temporary right to change from light industrial (B1(c)) use to dwellinghouse (C3) is to be brought in via a new Class PA of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the 2015 Order. The change of use is limited to a  building with a gross floorspace of 500 square metres or less.  There are restrictions in terms of the site and the premises including that the PD right will not apply if the building is listed or is within the curtilage of a listed building.

An application will have to be made to the LPA for a determination as to whether prior approval will be required as to transport and highway impacts of the development and contamination and flooding risks in relation to the building. In addition, a statement will have to be submitted addressing whether the introduction of, or an increase in, residential use of premises in the area would have an adverse impact on the sustainability of the provision of  industrial, storage or distribution services in that area where the change is in an area regarded as “important” for these activities.

No applications in respect of this PD right are to be accepted on or before 30 September 2017.  Councils therefore have time to bring forward Article 4 directions to remove the PD right should they decide this would be appropriate.

The change of use must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date.

(iv) Statements

A developer changing the use of a building to residential use pursuant to classes M, N, O, P, PA and Q of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the 2015 Order will have to supply to the LPA a statement with the prior approval application specifying the net increase in the number of dwellinghouses proposed by the development alongside its application for determination as to whether prior approval will be required.  For the avoidance of doubt, this does not apply to applications made on or before 5 April 2016.

Developers and funders will welcome the fact that details have now been issued following the Government’s October 2015 announcement about office to residential PD rights.

A further blog will be issued shortly in relation to the amendments to mineral permitted development rights.