What you need to know about Permitted Development Rights
2013 saw the introduction of new Permitted Development Rights (PD Rights) allowing for the conversion of offices to residential accommodation under Class O of the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order, the intention being to assist the economy and stimulate development activity.
The provisions dispensed with the need to apply for planning permission for change of use from offices to residential but introduced a prior notification procedure, the grounds for local authority opposition being limited to transport considerations, flood risk and contamination. The provisions were initially for three years but became permanent in March 2016, when a further consideration was also introduced relating to the noise generated by adjoining commercial uses.
It is fair to say that these PD Rights have been put to good use in Essex and Suffolk. At last count, since 2013 Ipswich has seen 29 applications for conversion of offices to apartments, accounting for approximately 309 residential units, totalling nearly 267,000 sq ft. 93% of the associated accommodation has now been successfully converted or is at least in the process of being developed. This has taken a lot of otherwise poor quality office accommodation out of the market and given it a new lease of life. We have sold a number of such conversion opportunities and our experience has also shown that the resultant apartments prove to be popular with both first-time buyers and Buy to Let investors.
Provisions are also available for the conversion of agricultural buildings of under 450 sq m to residential accommodation, subject to similar criteria. Buildings of under 500 sq m are also permitted to change to a variety of commercial uses including retail, industrial, warehousing and even restaurants and hotels!
So what next?
Further PD Rights will now come into effect on 1st October under Class PA. These allow change of use from light industrial to residential, subject to the same criteria as Class O, but also a 500 sq m size restriction and an assessment of the impact on the sustainability of providing industrial services. There is no guidance as to how the sustainability criteria will be assessed at this stage but naturally it would not be sensible to convert a mid-terrace industrial unit on a large estate in terms of planning or perhaps more importantly, financial viability and market demand. However, as we have seen with the office sector, these new rights may well bring a number of isolated, tired industrial units back into beneficial, economic use. These rights are currently only for a temporary three year period, as was the case with the original office to residential provisions, but time will tell whether they become a permanent feature.
So, if you own a run-down commercial unit or are perhaps looking for a contemporary house with an edgy industrial feel, then please get in touch!
See all available commercial property in Ipswich
See all available commercial property in Colchester
See all available commercial property in Chelmsford