Changes to permitted development rights given cautious welcome

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has just confirmed that temporary permitted development rights, first introduced in 2013, will be made permanent.

In addition to this, those who already have permission “will have 3 years in which to complete the change of use”.

In future, permitted development rights will allow office buildings to be demolished and replaced with new buildings for residential use, and “enable the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to new homes”.

The current exempted areas will remain in place until May 2019. They will have until this date to make an Article 4 direction if they want to continue their exemption and remove the rights. An Article 4 direction allows them to require a planning application for any proposed change of use.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said:

“We’re determined that, both in Whitehall and in town halls, everything is done to get the homes we need built. Today’s measures will mean we can tap into the potential of underused buildings to offer new homes for first-time buyers and families long into the future, breathing new life into neighbourhoods and at the same time protecting our precious green belt.”

Charles Mills, partner and head of planning at Daniel Watney LLP, said:

“Permanently relaxing permitted development rights for office-to-residential conversions will most likely give house building a boost, but it is important to protect employment space as well. Cities with lots of homes but nowhere to work are just as problematic as ones with lots of offices but nowhere to live.

“There is a danger these latest changes will see yet more disputes between councils and central government, at a time when they should be working together to deliver the homes and jobs Britain needs.”