Raft of change-of-use development rights come into force in England on 30 May


The date for a raft of new
permitted development rights to come into force in England, including office to
residential conversions and larger domestic extensions, has been set at 30 May
2013. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the go ahead for the
controversial changes by laying secondary legislation that amends the GPDO
Having been forced to
introduce a ‘light touch’ neighbour consultation process for domestic
extensions that exceed the old permitted development rights, following a revolt
by both MPs and peers, Pickles still faces widespread opposition from local
authorities that failed to win exemption from his office conversion policy.
It has emerged that
applications for opt outs from the office conversion policy included 30 of the
33 London boroughs, seven of the eight largest English cities, and hundreds of
individual local authority employment zones around the country. In the event,
the DCLG has allowed just 17 exemptions, including 11 central London boroughs.

Change of use relaxations
coming into force are:
  • New permitted development
    rights will allow change of use from offices B1(a) to homes (C3) to provide new
    homes in existing buildings. The exemptions announced are the City of London
    and the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets,
    Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham and Kensington and Chelsea,
    and areas within the Vale of White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford, Sevenoaks, East
    Hampshire and Manchester City Council.
  • New retail ventures, financial
    and professional services, restaurants, cafes and businesses will be able to
    open for up to two years in buildings designated as A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1
    or D2 classes (shops, financial services, restaurants, pubs, hot food
    takeaways, business, non-residential institutions, leisure and assembly).
  • Thresholds for permitted
    development rights for change of use from B1 (business) or B2 (general
    industry) to B8 (storage and distribution) classes and from B2 (general
    industry) or B8 (storage and distribution) to B1 (business) will increase from
    235m2 to 500 m2.
  • To promote free schools,
    premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions,
    and leisure and assembly will be able to change use permanently to a
    state-funded school. For one academic year, buildings in any use class will be
    able to be used as a state-funded school.
  • Existing agricultural
    buildings under 500 m2 can change to a number of other business
    uses. For buildings between 150 m2 and 500 m2, prior
    approval is required to ensure that the change of use does not create
    unacceptable impacts, such as noise or transport problems.
The government is still
planning to consult in the summer on further relaxations to allow empty shops
and agricultural buildings to convert to homes.