Commercial to residential – new permitted development rights
Rob Windus from Fenn Wright outlines the new permitted development rights introduced earlier this month.
The change introduces two new classifications that affect commercial premises. The first new class, CA, affects town centre shops (Class A1) and permits a change of use to a bank, building society, credit union or friendly society (Class A2). The second, and arguably more significant change, is the creation of another new class, IA, permitting the conversion of a shop (Class A1) or financial and professional services property (Class A2) to residential use and covers the conversion of properties with relevant combined use to outright residential use too.
Class CA – change of use from a shop (A1) to a bank, building society, credit union or friendly society (a subset of A2)
This new permitted development right aims to improve the economic vitality of town centres. It is hoped that by removing the requirement for planning permission there will be corresponding improvements in occupancy levels and footfall.
Planning permission will still be required for any external changes to the premises and anyone implementing this change of use will have to notify their local planning authority, with proof of the new use, as soon as reasonably practicable.
Class IA – change of use from a shop (A1) or financial and professional services property (A2) to residential (A3)
The introduction of this permitted development right is set within a context of growing concern over housing shortages.
Where development is permitted under Class IA, there are conditions to be met. Notably, the permitted right only applies if the building was used for a qualifying purpose on 20 March 2013 or when it was last in use. In addition, this change of use cannot be made if the total floor space of the building exceeds 150m2 or if the building is Listed.
One significant element of this new permitted development right, is that developers will still be required to submit an application for prior approval to the local planning authority. Issues under consideration will include transport impacts and whether, in the case of shopping areas, the change of use would be to the detriment of the sustainability of that shopping area. This still leaves a significant amount of control with the planning authority to determine approval of any conversion.
The changes come into force under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014 and follow changes made last year affecting the conversion of office accommodation to residential use. Being just days old, this latest change is yet to be tested, however, this additional flexibility in the planning system should be embraced as a further opportunity to bring vacant properties back to use. And it potentially provides opportunities to enhance the value, both financial and practical, of a range of commercial premises.
Fenn Wright can provide further advice around this change in legislation and will be pleased to discuss your specific opportunity. Please contact one of our Commercial team in Ipswich, Colchester, Witham or Chelmsford.