The government has confirmed that Permitted development (PD) rights allowing the conversion of shops and other high street uses to offices and hot food takeaways to homes will come into effect on 25 May,
The regulations, laid before parliament last week, follow an announcement made by the Housing Secretary James Brokenshire as part of this year's spring statement that the rights would be introduced. The statutory instruments have not included the anticipated proposed PD right allowing upward extensions to create new housing, though the government said it still intended to proceed with this.
On 3 May, the government published its response to the October consultation ‘Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes’. Amongst the changes, the government confirmed they are introducing new PDRs which will allow A1/A2/A5 uses to change to office B1, and A5 uses to change to dwellinghouse C3 (subject to conditions and limitations, including floor space limitations). These amendments are being brought forward through under The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development Advertisement and Compensation Amendments) (England) Regulations 2019, which came into force today.
The Government has not combined the A1-A3 use classes and has not yet amended the A1 use class, but has stressed that…
"We intend to amend the shops use class to ensure it captures current and future retail models, which will include clarification on the ability of the A use classes to diversify and incorporate ancillary uses without undermining the amenity of the area".
Councils will be able to assess whether there is adequate provision of the existing use and the impact on the sustainability of shopping areas when deciding if conversions should be allowed.
Under the changes, a new class JA of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) is created. This allows local authorities to consider proposals for the conversion of shops and other high street uses, including takeaways, betting offices, payday loan shops, and launderettes, to offices under a prior approval process.
The changes allow takeaways to Change of Use to housing under class M of the General Permitted Development Order, which already allows retail and sui generis uses to convert to residential without the need for planning permission.
Following much controversy and backlash from particular Prior Notification projects, more than half of respondents within the Ministry said they opposed plans to allow the conversion of hot food takeaways to housing. Concerns included the potential to "undermine the vitality" of areas "planned for entertainment and the night-time economy".
Further to this, more than half of respondents also opposed rights for upward residential extensions, raising concerns about the quality of homes to be delivered, access and safety, and the impact on the existing occupiers and neighbours of the premises being extended.
"We recognise the complexity of designing a permitted development right to build upwards and will continue to engage with interested parties on the technical details,".
The regulations will also allow the temporary conversion of shops and other high street premises to a wider range of community uses, increase the permitted height of electric vehicle charging points, and remove PD rights for public call boxes.
In final summary to the statements that had been made by the Ministry, they stated;
"We intend to continue to consider the design of a permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes, in the light of the views received to the consultation,"