A new order brings in new permitted development rights including a right which permits a change of use from Class B1(a) (offices) to Class C3 (dwellinghouses), if the change is made between now and 30 May 2016. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 was published on 10 May 2013 and came into force today. Click here to read the order.

This order amends existing legislation and follows the government's announcement in September 2012 and subsequent consultation. It is hoped that the new permitted development rights will result in the provision of more new homes and give developers a new option for the use of any outdated or underused office space, as well as promoting growth and creating new jobs.

The offices must have been used as such before today (30 May 2013) and the new rights do not apply where the building is a listed building or scheduled monument. The use of the new rights is subject to a requirement that before the new development is commenced the developer is required to apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required on the;

  1. transport and highway impacts of the development;
  2. contamination risks on the site; and
  3. flooding risks on the site.

A change from office to residential use under the new rights is not likely to incur a Community Infrastructure Levy charge where proposals result in no new additional floorspace being created and where the building has been in continuous lawful use for at least six months in the twelve months prior to the development being permitted. However, specific advice should be sought in respect of any proposal.

Note that there are areas in 17 local authorities in England which are exempt from the use of these rights, for national or local economic reasons. They are central activities zones and other economically active areas within eleven London boroughs: the City of London and the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea. The other exempt areas in England are within the borough councils of Vale of the White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford (Kent), the district councils of Sevenoaks and East Hampshire, and Manchester City Council. Click here to see the official maps of areas exempt from these new permitted development rights.