Office to residential permitted development rights confirmed as permanent

After much speculation, permitted development rights to allow the conversion of offices (Use Class B1(a) to residential (Use Class C3) have been made permanent by the Government with effect from 6 April 2016.

Temporary permitted development rights allowing the conversion of office buildings were first introduced by coalition Government in 2013 and were set to expire in May 2016. However, due to success of the temporary measure in delivering a significant number of dwellings across the country, the legislation has now been made permanent under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016.

The extension of permitted development rights were announced in Government press release by Housing and Planning Minster Brandon Lewis 13 October 2015, titled ‘Thousands more homes to be developed in planning shake up’. The eagle eyed followers of planning news amongst you will note the announcement initially said the Government would look to introduce a new permitted development right that would allow the demolition of office buildings to make way for new homes. Unfortunately, no such rights are included within the updated legislation and are yet to come to fruition.

The key legislative changes are summarised below:

  • A new condition allowing local planning authorities to consider “impacts of noise from commercial premises on intended occupiers of development” is now included. This will be particularly relevant in assessing applications for the partial change of use buildings to residential use, where others parts will continue in commercial use.
  • Development must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date. This applies to prior approval applications that have already been granted under the temporary legislation, i.e. an application granted in May 2014 must be completed by May 2017.
  • From 31 May 2019, exemptions areas (known as article 2(5) land), which include large areas of central London will no longer be exempt from the permitted development right. However, LPA’s can bring into force article 4 directions removing rights, subject to approval by the Secretary of State.

Elsewhere, new permitted development rights have been introduced permitting changes of use from laundrettes (sui generis use) and light industry premises (Use Class B1(b)) to dwellings, both of which would be subject to a prior approval. The new right for B1(b) premises is delayed and comes into force on 1 October 2017 (to give Council’s the opportunity to withdraw the right through an Article 4 direction). It will only then last for three years.

If you have any queries on this feel free to get in touch with a member of the team today!



Changes to Permitted Development Rights

In a statement made yesterday, the Government has announced that the temporary permitted development right allowing the change of use of offices to residential dwellings will definitely now be made permanent.

Further details have been provided today in the form of a statement by Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis. In it we learn that those schemes which already have permission (prior notice approval) will be given 3 years to complete the change of use. This 3 year limit also seems to apply to new prior approvals.

The currently exempted areas will continue to enjoy that exemption until May 2019. This is in order to allow the local authorities to consider making an Article 4 direction to remove the rights and require a planning application for any proposed change of use.

But the minister’s statement goes further than many were expecting hinting that in the future the rights will be extended beyond change of use to allow the demolition of office buildings and new building for residential use. We will have to await how that is introduced.


Also new permitted development rights, subject to prior approval, for the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to residential use will be introduced. Again we await the details to “be provided in due course”.

If you have any queries on this feel free to get in touch with a member of the team today!

Land Registry compliant lease plans

Following client demand, we are now happy to announce we will be adding the preparation of Land Registry compliant lease plans to our list of many services we can offer.

Read More