Government response to consultation on Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and delivery of new homes – May 2019

The Government has this week published its response to the consultation from October 2018 entitled, “Planning Reform: Supporting the High Street and increasing the delivery of new homes.” It has also published regulations (the “Regulations”), which will come into effect on 25 May 2019, implementing in part the Government’s response to this consultation. These changes had already previously been announced in the Housing Secretary’s statement in March as part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Statement.

What is changing?

High Street Changes Of Use (Permanent)

The Government has brought forward the Regulations to introduce a new permitted development right to allow shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, pay day loan shops and launderettes to change to up to 500m2 of office use (B1) with prior approval by the local planning authority of certain planning impacts, including on the sustainability of the existing shopping area. This is being introduced in the Regulations as Class JA of the General Permitted Development Order (the “GPDO”).

Whilst the Government acknowledged in its consultation response that it may undermine the vitality of areas planned for entertainment and the night-time economy, Class M of the GPDO is being amended to include a new permitted development right permitting the change of use of hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential use (C3).

High Street Changes Of Use (Temporary)

Temporary changes of use between various high street uses, offices and leisure facilities are currently allowed under permitted development rights for two years. From 25 May 2019, the following uses: shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), restaurants and cafes (A3), hot food takeaways (A5), offices (B1), non-residential institutions (D1), assembly and leisure uses (D2), betting shops and pay day loan shops will be able to change to a ‘flexible’ temporary use as shop (A1), financial and professional service (A2), restaurant and cafe (A3) or office (B1) for up to 3 as opposed to 2 years.

Permanent Household Rear Extensions

A temporary permitted development right allowing larger single-storey rear extensions to homes and subject to the neighbour consultation scheme was due to expire on 30 May 2019. The Government has confirmed that this will be made permanent. Class A of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO is being updated by the Regulations to remove the time limiting date of 30 May 2019 as well as the condition which required development to be completed by that date.

Electric Vehicle Charging Points

Existing rights to install electric vehicle charging points are being amended to allow for taller charging stands in an off-street parking space. Class E of Schedule 2 is being amended to permit charging stands of up to 2.3m. Within the curtilage of a house or block of flats the existing height limit of 1.6m will however remain.

Telephone kiosks

Permitted Development rights allowing public call boxes with advertising attached to be erected without planning permission will be discontinued. There has recently been a lot of litigation in this area as service providers have sought to take advantage of their prominent position on the high street. Class 16 of Part 1 of Schedule 3 of the GPDO is being updated accordingly.

What is not changing?

Time-limited Permitted Development Rights

The Government has confirmed that the temporary right for changes of use from storage or distribution (B8) to residential (C3) will not be extended nor made permanent. This had previously been announced in March and the right will now lapse on 10 June 2019. The Government acknowledged in the consultation response the concerns that had been expressed about the quality of the housing that was being provided under this right.

What might change in the future?

Demolition of commercial building and redevelopment as residential

A permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes is still being considered “in light of the views received to the consultation”.

Upward Extensions

James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary, announced in March the Government’s intention to introduce a permitted development right "to extend upwards certain existing buildings in commercial and residential use to deliver additional homes". The Government has recognised the complexity of designing a permitted development right to build upwards and will continue to engage with interested parties on the technical details.

A detailed note on the consultation and this Permitted Development right can be accessed here.

There have been an additional 40,000 homes delivered under the office (B1) to residential (C3) permitted development since its introduction. It remains to be seen however whether these further changes will add to the housing stock and whether the Government has learnt from the criticisms of the other permitted development schemes it has recently introduced.