On 6 April, new permitted development rights came into force allowing the change of use of a building from retail (Class A1) or financial and professional services (Class A2) to a dwellinghouse (Class C3) and the rights also permit any building operations that are reasonably necessary for the conversion. The new PD rights cannot be used where the existing use is itself only permitted by way of permitted development, unless the existing use is a mixed use combining a dwellinghouse with either a Class A1 or Class A2 use. 

The new PD rights are only available if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The property was used for a Class A1 and/or Class A2 use on 20 March 2014 or, if the building was not in use on that date, when it was last in use.
  • The cumulative area of floor space changing use does not exceed 150 square metres (including any previous development using these PD rights).
  • The change of use will not result in the external dimensions of the building extending beyond the existing external dimensions.
  • The development does not include demolition, other than partial demolition where reasonably necessary to convert the building.
  • The building is not: on Article 1(5) land (for example, a national park or conservation area); in a site of special scientific interest; in a safety hazard area; in a military explosives storage area; a listed building; or a scheduled monument.

The change of use may require prior approval from the local planning authority in respect of transport and highways impacts, contamination risks, flood risks and the design and external appearance of the building. Prior approval may also depend on whether the change of use is “undesirable” in relation to any impact on the provision of retail and/or financial and professional services and the sustainability of a key shopping area if the building is located in such an area. 

Full details can be found in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014.