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New PD rights coming into effect from 1st August 2021 to allow commercial and retail units to be converted into residential.

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The Government has confirmed on 31 March 2021 that a new permitted development (PD) right to allow the change of use in England from any use, or mix of uses, from the Commercial, Business and Service use class (Class E) to residential use (Class C3) will be introduced under Class MA of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) Order 2021.

The PD rights apply to all uses within Class E.  This included uses such as retail, restaurants, professional services, offices, gyms, surgeries, nurseries and a host of other high street uses. This could greatly expand the range of premises granted a right to convert to residential, as compared with the existing limited office to residential PD rights.

The purpose of the new PD rights is to allow for new homes in sustainable locations, close to businesses and other amenities. The measures are intended to remove eyesores and to transform unused buildings into high quality residential units on brownfield land.

The new PD rights will come into force on 1st August 2021 and will allow unused commercial buildings to be granted permission for residential use via a fast track prior approval process.  Councils will only be able to assess prior approval applications on specific considerations including: flooding, noise from commercial premises and adequate light to habitable rooms.  Other site specific issues that Councils can take into consideration include: the impact of the loss of a health service and in conservation areas the impact of the loss of a ground floor Class E use. 

The new PD rights will include a requirement that a building will need to be vacant for min. 3 months prior to the date of the application, in order to protect successful business in existing use.

The building must also have been in a commercial, business, or service use for at least two continuous years previously. A size limit of 1,500 sqm of floorspace will also apply, to avoid the loss of larger units.

The announce measures support a series of other measures previously announced by the government including relaxation of planning rules allowing pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways, the erection of outdoor marquees, longer opening hours for retail units, temporary pavement licences and other developments.

If you have a query on the above new permitted development rights and the prior approval process, please contact us for a free consultation: enquiries@4dplanning.com


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