Government Publishes Groundbreaking Permitted Development Rights

23rd July 2020

The Government has published several new pieces of legislation expanding permitted development rights and defining some new development use classes.

The new permitted development rights allow the replacement of certain buildings to provide new housing and allow the upward extension of certain properties without planning permission.

The Government states that these new rules will reduce the pressure on greenfield sites by delivering more homes above existing buildings or through the redevelopment of unused buildings and by enabling the expansion of existing homes to meet the needs of growing families.

In addition, three new use classes are proposed which enable many commercial, business, service and other properties to be quickly repurposed to help revive high streets and town centres – allowing businesses to adapt quickly to consumer needs.

Replacement of Commercial Buildings and Flats with Housing

From the 31st August, certain buildings (offices, R&D premises, light industrial units and purpose-built residential blocks) can be replaced with new housing, subject to design criteria and conditions.

Qualifying buildings must:

  • Not comprise or be located on sensitive sites (Conservation Areas, listed buildings, National Parks etc);
  • Be built before 1st January 1990;
  • Be lower than 18m in height;
  • Be vacant for at least six months prior to the application;
  • Be free-standing; and
  • Have a footprint of less than 1.000sqm.

The existing building can be replaced by new housing. The new housing can be a single detached house or a detached block of flats and must comply with multiple conditions, including that the new building:

  • Must not be larger than the footprint of the existing building;
  • Must not be more than 1,000sqm;
  • Can be up to two storeys (7m) higher up to a maximum height of 18m.

Prospective developers must apply for prior approval on the following grounds:

  • Transports and highways;
  • Land contamination;
  • Flood risk;
  • Design and external appearance;
  • Internal natural light levels;
  • Residential amenity of neighbouring properties;
  • Noise;
  • Impact of the residential use on business;
  • Heritage and archaeology;
  • Demolition method; and
  • Landscaping.

While the assessment process is rigorous, it is likely to provide an easier route for the delivery of housing and delivering on the Prime Minister’s promise to “Build, build, build”.

Upward Extensions of Residential, Commercial and Mixed-use Property

From the 31st August, upward extensions on detached, semi-detached and terrace houses, commercial or mixed use properties are permitted.

Existing houses can be extended upwards to provide additional living space while houses, commercial and mixed use properties can all be extended upwards to provide new flats.

Each property type is subject to a separate permitted development class with its own design criteria and conditions. Below is a list of some of the key design criteria and conditions relevant to all classes:

  • For additional living space:
    • Up to two additional storeys (7m) can be added to a house of two or more storeys to a maximum height of 18m;
    • One storey (3.5m) can be added to a single storey house;
  • For new flats:
    • Up to two additional storeys (7m) can be added to a house, commercial or mixed use property of three or more storeys to a maximum height of 18m;
  • In the case of a semi-detached or terrace property, the roof height must not be increased more than 3.5m;
  • The property must not comprise or be located within a sensitive site (Conservation Areas, listed buildings, National Parks etc); and
  • The property must have been constructed between 1st July 1948 and 5th March 2018 (or 28th October 2018 in the case of a house).

Applicants must apply for prior approval on the following grounds:

  • For additional living space:
    • Design and external appearance;
    • Residential amenity of neighbouring properties;
    • Air traffic and defense assets; and
    • Whether the development will impact protected views.
  • For new flats:
    • Transports and highways;
    • Air traffic and defense assets;
    • Land contamination;
    • Flood risk;
    • Design and external appearance;
    • Internal natural light levels;
    • Residential amenity of neighbouring properties;
    • Noise;
    • Impact of the residential use on business; and
    • Whether the development will impact protected views.

New Use Classes

From the 1st September, three new uses classes will be introduced, these are:

  • Class E: Commercial, Business and Service
  • Class F1: Learning and non-residential institutions; and
  • Class F2: Local community.

The new classes amalgamate several existing classes, for example, the new Class E includes shops (Class A1), financial and professional services (Class A2), restaurants and cafes (Class A3) and business (Class B1 offices, R&D and light industry). However, it does not include drinking establishments, hot food takeaways and venues such as cinemas and halls.

Class F1 covers all learning and non-residential institutions other than some specific uses including education, museums, public libraries and halls, places of worship and courts.

Class F2 includes very specific community uses including essential goods shops, meeting halls and outdoor or indoor sport.

Where properties fall within the same use class, they are able to change to a different use within the same class, without needing planning permission.

The new use classes therefore enable much more flexible use of buildings, allowing properties to seamlessly transition from retail to food and drink or professional services and vice versa.

These classes also appear to relate to town centre based properties, however there is no clear definition of a town centre. Given the flexibility the new use classes allow, this will certainly be a space to watch.

How Do the Changes Affect You?

Edgars are exploring the opportunities these rights present and are investigating how they can benefit our current projects and existing clients.

If you would like to discuss these changes and what they could mean for your property or business, please submit an enquiry or contact Edgars on enquiries@edgarslimited.co.uk.

Sources:

Government announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-laws-to-extend-homes-upwards-and-revitalise-town-centres

Replacement buildings legislation: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/756/made/data.pdf

Upwards extensions legislation: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/755/made/data.pdf

New use classes legislation: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/757/made/data.pdf

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