The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015 (“GPDO 2015”) comes into force today (15 April 2015) which introduces new permitted development rights, changes to the procedure for Article 4 Directions and consolidates and replaces the much cited Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 and its many amendments.

New permitted development rights

The new permitted development rights are intended to reduce the bureaucratic burden so as to benefit the public and private sectors. Whilst some of these rights may appear to be a generous relaxation of the existing law, conditions and restrictions inevitably apply in most cases and prior approval is generally needed which will limit their application.

The new rights include:

  • a temporary right permitting change from storage or distribution centres (Class B8) to residential use (Class C3) for a three year period expiring on 15 April 2018;
  • a permitted change from amusement arcade/casino (sui generis use) to residential use (Class C3);
  • a permitted change from retail (Class A1) to financial services (Class A2);
  • a permitted change from retail/financial services (Class A1/A2) to food and drink (Class A3);
  • a permitted change from retail/financial services (Class A1/A2), betting offices, pay day loan shops and casinos to assembly and leisure uses (Class D2);
  • extension of the temporary permitted development rights introduced in May 2013 for extensions to shops, offices, industrial and warehouse buildings to support business expansion and the economy so they apply permanently;
  • the erection of click and collect facilities within the curtilage of an existing retail shop;
  • modifications to the size of an existing retail shop loading bay;
  • installation, alteration or replacement of solar photovoltaics on the roofs of non-domestic buildings, up to a capacity of 1 Megawatt.

The existing temporary right that permits a change from office to residential use has not been extended by the GPDO 2015 as was previously anticipated and will still expire on 30 May 2016.

Article 4 Directions

The GPDO 2015 also amends the procedure for Article 4 Directions. Article 4 of the GPDO 2015 gives planning authorities the power to remove specified development rights locally by making a direction under this Article. Previously the Secretary of State’s express approval was needed before an Article 4 Direction could come into force, but the GPDO 2015 allows planning authorities to make a non-immediate Article 4 Direction without the Secretary of State’s approval.

The amended Article 4 also contains a new provision that allows a development to be carried out in reliance on the permitted development rights where a planning authority gives prior approval but subsequently makes an Article 4 direction to suspend the relevant permitted development rights. In such circumstances the development must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date.

Development Management Procedure Order 2015

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure)(England) Order 2015 (“DMPO 2015”) also comes into force on 15 April 2015. This Order consolidates the provisions of the DMPO 2010 (as amended) and introduces new planning procedures.

A new procedure which allows some planning conditions to be deemed to be discharged if the planning authority fails to make a decision within eight weeks is of note.

Such applications can already by appealed for non-determination, but the appeal process is slow and can delay development programmes further. The new procedure requires the submission of a ‘deemed discharge notice’ to the planning authority at least six weeks after submission of the application to discharge the condition and the notice takes effect two weeks later if the planning authority has not in the meantime made a decision.

This new procedure is intended to assist in the reduction of delays to development programmes. However, there is a long list of conditions excluded from these deeming provisions, including conditions that relate to the environment, flooding, SSSI’s, contaminated land, archaeology, highways, approval of reserved matters and planning obligations. It remains to be seen whether these new provisions will in practice have any impact on delays given that the most troublesome conditions are excluded, but in all probability the legislation does not go far enough to make a notable improvement.