Office to Residential Permitted Development Rights Made Permanent

11th April 2016 Commercial

In 2013, the Government extended permitted development rights in England to enable building owners to change the use of their property without having to make a formal application for planning permission. In particular, temporary permitted development rights were introduced to permit offices to be converted to residential dwellings. These permissions were initially applied for a limited period of three years, however this has now been extended and the 'temporary' right has now been made permanent.

The rights (set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015) remain subject to prior approval from the relevant local planning authority before development commences. The extension refrains potential hampering of the conversion of many underused office buildings and substantiates the Government's commitment to increase the delivery of new homes in England.

The extension of this right will:

  • Give developers who have already secured prior approval until May 2019 to complete the conversion project from office to residential.
  • Allow those areas which are currently exempt from permitted development rights (including The City of London, London's Central Activities Zone, Manchester City Centre and areas in Stevenage, Ashford, SevenOaks and East Hampshire) until May 2019 to make an Article 4 direction if they wish to continue determining planning applications for the change of use.
  • Impose a new condition under prior approval which requires developers to consider noise impacts on the intended residential occupants of the development.

In order to qualify for the permitted development right the existing floorspace in the office which is to convert to residential must be in lawful B1 office use.

A further two permitted development rights have also been added to the Order:

1. Light industrial to residential - allows a change of use from B1c with a maximum floorspace of 500m2. The local planning authority in its prior approval will consider whether the introduction of residential use in the area would impact negatively on its primary industrial function.

This is a temporary permitted development right and will be introduced from 30 September 2017 for a period of three years.

2. Launderette to residential - allows a change of use from a launderette with a maximum floorspace of 150m2. The local planning authority in its prior approval will consider whether the loss of a launderette will have a negative impact on the service in the local area. If it is within a key shopping area, it must also consider if the loss of the unit will impact on the sustainability of that shopping area.

This is a permanent permitted development right and will come into force on 6 April 2016.

For guidance on any matters relating to Real Estate Commercial, contact JMW today by calling us on 0345 872 6666 or emailing.


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Katie Powell is a Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Commercial Litigation department

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