The Government has now issued its response to the consultation carried out last year principally relating to allowing the conversion of commercial buildings to residential use without the need to obtain express planning permission.
The thinking behind the consultation was to increase the supply of residential homes through the conversion of existing commercial buildings used under the Use Classes of B1, B2 and B8 (namely business use for offices, research and development or light industry, general industrial use and for storage and distribution).
The Government received 714 responses to the consultation. Its conclusion is to maintain the status quo, namely that express planning permission will be required for such a change of use. Such a change of use will not be the subject of deemed permission.
The Government has inserted into the National Planning Policy Framework document published in March of this year (paragraph 51) the policy that local planning authorities “should normally approve planning applications for change to residential use ……. from commercial buildings (currently in the B Use Classes) where there is an identified need for additional housing in that area, provided that there are no strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate.”
The Government’s response also addresses the situation of the conversion of premises above shops and offices in town centres. Currently there is deemed permission for conversion to a single flat. That deemed permission will now be extended to allow the creation of two flats.
As Withy King pointed out in its response to the consultation, there are many other statutory provisions impeding the conversion of obsolete buildings, principally building regulations and the Fire Safety regime.
Along with publishing its response to last year’s consultation, the Government has published another consultation relating to deemed permission. The areas being considered this time are:
- To allow change of use from existing buildings used for agricultural purposes to uses supporting rural growth.
- To increase the thresholds for permitted development rights for change of use between B1 (business/office) and B8 (warehouse) classes and from B2 (industry) to B1 and B8.
- To introduce a permitted development right to allow the temporary use for two years.
- To provide C1 (hotels, boarding and guest houses) permitted development rights to converts to C3 (dwelling houses).
- To consider if any updates or amendments are needed to the existing descriptions within the use classes order.
The consultation document and response form can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/reusebuildingsconsultation
The consultation closes on 11 September 2012.