New permitted development rights

    The Government has announced new permitted development rights allowing change of use from B1(a) office use to C3 residential use, which come into force this spring.

    Designed to support economic growth, the new rights will be in place for a three-year trial period. They herald a sea change in policy arising from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

    Under the permitted development rights, local authorities may seek exemptions to convert offices into homes on economic grounds, but the Secretary of State will grant them only in exceptional circumstances. The new rights will be subject to a rigorous prior approval process covering significant transport and highway impacts, and will limit development in flood risk zones or on contaminated land, for example. This practical approach is welcome.

    Promoting rural prosperity and job creation, agricultural buildings can be converted for other uses, such as shops, restaurants and leisure facilities, but not for residential use. The stringent prior approval process and size constraints will protect neighbourhoods from issues such as flooding and unacceptable levels of noise and traffic.

    The new permitted development rights also double thresholds for change of use between business/office (B1) and storage/warehouse (B8) classes and from general industry (B2) to B1 and B8, from 235 square metres to 500 square metres.