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February 26, 2024

Hot off of the press, new permitted development rights for the conversion of a wide range of premises into homes are coming into effect shortly.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order (GDPO) 2024 S.I. 2024/141 was made on 13 February 2024, and will be coming into force on 5 March 2024.

The new legislation amends the GDPO by principally permitting a much broader change of use of existing commercial, business and service properties to be used as dwelling houses through the Prior Approval procedure.

It has scrapped both the time limit which applied to Class MA development rights which required that a building be vacant for a continuous period of at least three months and the floorspace limitation which limited the cumulative floorspace of the building changing use to 1500sqm.

This will open up the Prior Approval right for a much wider range of sites. It has also removed the requirement for premises to be made vacant before an application under Class MA can be made.

The removal of the floorspace restriction will open up much broader opportunities for offices, light industrial and other business uses of more substantial size which were previously excluded from this right by virtue of their scale.

Properties where their lawful use falls within the following classes will benefit from this change.

(a) the following classes of the Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) as it had effect before 1st September 2020 —

(i) Class A1 (shops)

(ii) Class A2 (financial and professional services)

(iii) Class A3 (food and drink)

(iv) Class B1 (business)

(v) Class D1(a) (non-residential institutions – medical or health services)

(vi) Class D1(b) (non-residential institutions – crèche, day nursery or day centre)

(vii) Class D2(e) (assembly and leisure – indoor and outdoor sports), other than use as an indoor swimming pool or skating rink 

(b) on or after 1st September 2020, Class E (commercial, business and service) of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).

The Prior Approval right is, however, still subject to the same other limitations which will require creative thinking and design to overcome.

The Government has not taken the opportunity to introduce a relaxation of the approach taken by local planning authorities (LPAs) to considering the internal aspects of the development, including matters of daylight and sunlight, that are proposed within the NPPF Consultation ‘Strengthening planning policy for brownfield development’, also released on 13th February 2024, for the purposes of this expanded Prior Approval right.

Any application will therefore still be subject to the limitation at Part 2, Class MA, Paragraph MA.2.(1)(f) of the GPDO which requires LPAs to consider whether there will be an ‘adequate provision of natural light in all habitable rooms of the dwellinghouses’.

Clever thinking around the design and arrangement of buildings proposed for conversion will still therefore be needed to ensure that the much larger buildings that can now be converted to dwelling houses under Class MA can be achieved.

Please contact us to find out more about how this may affect your plans or project.