The government has confirmed that a previous proposal to allow buildings to be switched from office use to residential use without the need for planning permission will not be implemented. The U-turn will be welcomed by those keen to protect employment space in towns and cities.
The news emerged in the government’s response to a consultation run last year on proposals to make it easier to change the use of buildings from commercial to residential.
The proposals were included in a consultation document on changes to the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 and they would have granted permitted development rights for change of use from class B1 (Business), B2 (General Industry) and B8 (Storage and distribution) to class C3 (Dwelling houses) without the need to seek planning consent.
In 2011 when the consultation was published Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "By unshackling developers from a legacy of bureaucratic planning we can help them turn thousands of vacant commercial properties into enough new homes to jump start housing supply and help get the economy back on track."
The consultation also asked whether the current permitted development rights which allow the conversion of space above a shop or other town centre use into a single flat should be extended to allow for more than one flat.
But in its response the government confirms that it has stopped short of allowing the B-to-C-use changes without planning permission and instead said will rely on the new policy in the National Planning Policy Framework which stipulates that local planning authorities “should normally approve planning applications for change to residential use and any associated development from commercial buildings where there is an identified need for additional housing in that area, provided that there are not strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate".
On the proposals to allow more flats to be created above shops without planning permission, the response document confirms the government will amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to extend existing permitted development rights which allow the space above shops and other town centre shops and offices to be converted into a single flat without the need to submit a planning application, to allow for two flats. This was one of the recommendations of the Portas Review of town centres.
Read related items on: