As part of the Government’s on-going planning reform agenda and following its consultation last year (endnote 1) further changes to permitted development rights in England and Wales came into force from 6 April 2014 (endnote 2).  These changes included a relaxation of the planning rules to allow hotels to convert to a school, academy or nursery.  These changes are considered in more detail below.

A new permitted development right enabling offices (B1), hotels (C1), residential institutions and secure residential institutions (C2 and C2A) and assembly and leisure premises (D2) to change to a nursery providing childcare.

This change is given effect by extending the rights that were introduced in May 2013 for buildings in such uses to convert to state-funded schools, by way of amendments to Class K of the 1995 Order.  Amendments to Part 32 of the 1995 Order are also made to afford some operational permitted development rights to such buildings becoming nurseries.

Development is not permitted if the site is within a SSSI, a safety hazard area, a military explosives area or if it is a listed building or if it is or contains a scheduled monument.

Furthermore, before beginning the development, the developer must apply to the LPA for determination as to whether prior approval will be required as to: transport and highways impacts of the development; noise impacts of the development; and contamination risks on the site.

Comment

This proposal had been well received, perhaps not surprisingly given the potential for an  increase in the number of conveniently located childcare facilities.

Although the Government's intentions to support greater numbers of academies and free schools was confirmed in the Queen's Speech on 4 June, the demand for schools is ultimately likely to be  limited.

At the end of April the Secretary of State for DCMS confirmed that a further consultation on further changes of use would be published in the summer 2014.  This consultation will be on a new planning use class containing betting shops,  If such proposals were taken forward this might mean that in future, if changes are implemented,  that where it is proposed to convert a bank, building society or estate agents into a betting shop it would require a planning application. In addition the Government is considering including as part of the forthcoming consultation removing the ability for restaurants and pubs to change  use without seeking planning permission.

At the time of writing the Department of Communities and Local Government confirmed that it still intended to consult in the summer, but that the consultation was not imminent.  This then provides a short window of opportunity for the industries to influence the consultation proposals; to push for greater changes for hotels or to lobby against too great restriction on betting shops.