New Permitted Development Rights

Posted on: October 26th, 2015

As part of a package of measures intended to increase the supply of housing, the government has announced that the temporary permitted development right which allows the conversion of empty offices into residential dwellings will become permanent.

The permitted development right was first introduced in May 2013 and was due to expire in May 2016. It allows for a change of use from offices into dwellinghouses without the need to obtain planning permission, although it is subject to the Local Planning Authority’s (“LPA”) prior approval in relation to transport, highways, contamination and flooding.

The changes mean that those who have an existing prior approval or who now secure permission will have three years from confirmation of the approval to complete the change of use.

The rights have also been extended to allow in future the demolition of office buildings to be replaced with new building for residential use and will enable the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to residential use. These rights will also be subject to the LPA’s prior approval and further details will be announced at a later date.

An exemption from the permitted development right for the City of London and 17 other local authority areas will continue until May 2019.

The Housing and Planning Bill, which had its first reading at the House of Commons on 13 October 2015, also contains an array of measures designed to improve the supply of housing to hit the Government’s target of 1 million homes by 2020, and give more people the opportunity to own their own home. Proposals include, amongst others:

  • Where Local Authorities have not got an up to date Local Plan by 2017 which provide for ongoing housing supply, the local Government will intervene and ensure that plans are made for them;
  • Measure to boost the supply of Starter Homes;
  • New measures giving local housing authorities tools to ban rogue landlords, as well as the introduction of rent repayment orders for breaches of banning orders or other specific offences;
  • The power for private landlords to recover possession of abandoned property without the need to apply for a court order. The landlord would have to give notice ending the tenancy on the same day if certain conditions are met. The tenant would have the right to apply to reinstate their tenancy within 6 months; and
  • A series of measures aimed at helping people find land to build or commission their own home, which is hoped will also help small builders.