Government announces new powers to stimulate investment in town centres

In response to the planning issues formed through the Covid-pandemic the Government has announced new powers to stimulate investment in town centres. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced on 31 March 2021 that they will create a new permitted development right to enable the change of use from the new Class E to residential use to help support housing delivery and enable more homes to be created in town centres under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021

The right will have effect from 1 August 2021 but is subject to a size limit of 1,500 sqm of floorspace changing use and applies to buildings that have been in a Class E use for at least two years, including time in former uses now within that class. To protect viable businesses the right only applies to buildings that have been continuously vacant for at least three months. And to protect local amenity the right is subject to prior approval by the local planning authority on a range of planning matters.

More details are likely to follow but the aim to invest in town centres is clearly being led by new residential development which brings opportunity but might have significant consequences for landlords and retailers over the coming years.

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