Permitted to develop?

    Permitted to Develop?


    Changing plans
    From 30 May 2013 the Government introduced a number of changes to permitted development rights which should be of interest to rural property owners.  These include allowing larger extensions to private residences (although size restrictions still apply), the right to change the use of commercial property to residential and the right for agricultural properties to be converted to commercial.

    The detail
    The permitted development for larger extensions and the conversion of commercial property to residential are only temporary and any permissions must be implemented by 30th May 2016.  Certain Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) have applied for exemptions so it is important to research the policy in your area carefully.

    As always the devil lies in the detail and the changes are by no means an open invitation for owners of rural properties to develop without referral to their local planning authority. 

    The main point to note is that if a physical alteration is required to a building to enable the change of use (i.e. new windows, doors, skylights etc) then planning permission may still be required.  Furthermore, listed buildings and scheduled monuments are exempt from this change and will always require a full planning application.  Certain permitted development applications will be allowed in Conservation Areas, Natural Parks, AONBs and the Green Belt but it is vital to check beforehand with your LPA.

    Prior notification
    It is important to realise that even where a proposed extension, or change of use, does fall within the permitted developments rights, an application to your local authority is still required in the form of a simple notification (very small developments) or more likely a prior notification.  On submission of a prior notification your LPA will then determine if the application actually does require full planning permission, this can take up to 56 days from the submission of a valid application. 

    In relation to extensions, the LPA will look at the size of the extension, the choice of materials and neighbour objection amongst other factors.  With regards to proposed changes of use of buildings the LPA will also look at the size of the building, the impact of the change of use on transport and highways, the flood risk of the area, safety and historic land contamination (amongst others).

    What next?
    This news will be very welcome to rural property owners looking to enlarge their existing dwelling rather than suffer the stress and upheaval of moving home as well as those who have converted agricultural buildings in to offices which, following the downturn in commercial property, have lied empty and are accruing business rates despite best efforts to find new tenants.

    However, planning policy still generally favours conversion of redundant agricultural buildings to commercial use.  It appears though that Government is realising that in many instances a commercial use is simply not the most appropriate use for properties in remote locations.  Consequently there is an indication that permitted rights might be further extended to include the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential.  Watch this space!

    It is important to realise we have simplified a relatively complex legislation and we recommend that professional advice is obtained before any action is taken.


    Key contacts

    Philip Eddell

    Philip Eddell

    Country & London House Consultancy

    Savills Newbury

    +44 (0) 1635 277 709

    +44 (0) 1635 277 709