Office to Residential Permitted Development Rights

Denise Stephenson, Sharpe Pritchard

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (the “GPDO”) was amended on 6 April 2016 by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 (SI 2016/332) and the Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/331) to introduce, on a permanent basis, a permitted development right for office to residential conversions. The drive behind this is the need to increase housing, but many local authorities are concerned about the impact of introducing residential housing into industrial areas which may not be suitable and want to protect key enterprise areas.

Does this not already apply?

Yes, but the current position is only temporary. It was introduced in May 2013 and allowed an applicant to convert from an office to residential without planning permission, with the applicant only having to obtain prior approval. From 6 April 2016, these rights are permanent.

In addition to this permanent right a new temporary right has been introduced to allow a permitted right for conversion from light industrial use to residential use. The right currently exists for three years and there is of course the possibility that this temporary right could become permanent too.

What options are there for planning authorities?

A planning authority could look at issuing an Article 4 Direction under the GPDO meaning that planning permission for an office to residential conversion would not be automatic. In granting an Article 4 Direction the authority must be certain that it is expedient to do so. The authority would want to decide carefully which areas it wanted to protect and consequentially which areas the Article 4 Direction would apply to.

How we can help

Sharpe Pritchard’s planning law team advise planning authorities and developers about all aspects of the law relating to planning policy. The team was recently listed again in the top 20 national planning law firms and is ranked for planning law work in the leading legal directories. Contact Denise Stephenson or Brian Hurwitz for assistance.