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Developers – Don’t miss out on investment opportunities under the new 2016 Permitted Development Rights. . .

Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 (SI 2016 No. 332), which comes into force on 6 April.

LAUNDERETTES TO RESIDENTIAL USE

The wording of Class M has been amended to include launderettes among the types of building uses that may be converted to residential use under this Class. Paragraph M.2(1)(d)(i) has been amended to refer additionally to launderettes in relation to the test as to the impact of the change of use on adequate provision of services of the sort that may be provided by such a building.

OFFICES TO RESIDENTIAL USE

The previous deadline for the completion of a residential conversion under Class O (31 May 2016) is entirely removed, by the deletion of paragraph O.1(c), which had imposed this deadline. However, there is now a condition (which is already found within a number of other Classes of permitted development in Part 3) that the development under Class O must be completed within a period of 3 years from the prior approval date. Where prior approval under Class O has already been given, this means that the three-year time limit for completion of the development is calculated from that date, which in some cases may not leave developers who got prior approval some time ago with too much extra time within which to complete their development.

One of the promised changes was the removal of the exclusion of permitted development under Class O in the ‘exempted areas’ (Article 2(5) Land). As previously announced, this exclusion of exempted areas is to be extended in order to give LPAs the opportunity to put Article 4 Directions in place in those areas. The government extended this period for a further three years. A prior approval application in respect of the proposed residential conversion of offices in one of the exempted areas cannot therefore be made before 30 May 2019 (or, as the GPDO amendment puts it, the change of use will not be permitted development if the prior approval application is made before that date).

Article 2(5) will then disappear with effect from 31 May 2019, as will the list of exempted areas (currently in Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the GPDO). For the sake of good order, the prohibition on prior approval applications under Class O in exempted areas before 30 May 2019 will also disappear from the Order on that date.

Note also that the impact of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development has now been added to the matters requiring prior approval in all cases under Class O (in addition to the existing requirement for prior approval in respect of transport and highways impacts, contamination risks on the site, and flooding risks). For this purpose, “commercial premises” means any premises normally used for the purpose of any commercial or industrial undertaking which existed on the date of the prior approval application, and includes any premises licensed under the Licensing Act 2003 or any other place of public entertainment.

Class O make no provision for any demolition or rebuilding of the office building. The position remains, therefore, that any building operations (whether for partial or more substantial demolition, or for any new build, even of quite a minor nature) will still require a separate planning permission. In principle, there is no reason why such a planning application for ‘associated works’ should not accompany (or follow shortly after) the prior approval application, and this has already been the practice for several years under the existing provisions. Any such planning application will have to be dealt with on its own merits, but the change of use itself will not be a material consideration in the determination of that application, because the change of use is in any event permitted development, subject only to the prior approval of the specified matters relating to that change of use.

LIGHT INDUSTRIAL USE TO RESIDENTIAL

Class PA will allow the residential conversion of premises that have been in light industrial use, although there is only a limited window of opportunity within which this can be done. A prior approval application under Class PA must be made to the LPA no later than 30 September 2017. As with the various other Classes of PD in Part 3, the provisions are quite detailed and require investigation on a site specific basis.