Changes to Permitted Development Rights

The Housing Minister announced the proposed introduction of 2 new permitted development (PD) rights in parliament yesterday (21st July 2020).

The first will allow developers to demolish unused commercial premises, developed prior to January 1990, to make way for new residential development. The second will allow for the upward extension of homes by up to two storeys for the delivery of new residential units. It is proposed they will permit the delivery of substantial development without the requirement for planning permission.

PD rights are a long-contested matter. Interestingly, the changes have been announced alongside a critical piece of research that has outlined the unacceptable quality of housing that has been delivered as a result of the Government’s previous scheme, allowing commercial buildings to be converted to residential without planning permission. The report references a range of issues from inadequate size, with only 52% of PD units complying with Nationally described space standards, to poor access to daylight and sunlight. Despite these findings and the significant opposition throughout consultation, the Government has proceeded with the decision to widen the scope of PD rights labelling the move as “cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy”.

What remains to be seen then is how further simplification of the legislative framework overcomes the criticisms levied at previous attempts and indeed whether the proposed changes provide quite as simplistic a mechanism as the early headlines suggest. The detail of these provisions will be interesting to read and the potential for challenge by Councils, as often happens, will need to be considered. Often Ministerial statements can either be diluted or even contested and we would advise that any party wishing to take advantage of these proposals check that their project is lawful before any works commence.

The two new permitted development rights, alongside a radical change in the use class system relating to high street uses, are expected to come in to play as early as September 2020.

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