The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 (GPD(A)O) came into force on 30 May 2013. The effect of the GPD(A)O is to increase the “permitted development thresholds”.

The following is a general overview only of the impact of the GPD(A)O and further advice should be sought before any development is undertaken.

What constitutes a “permitted development”?

A permitted development is one where the application process usually required for obtaining planning permission is dispensed with. Planning permission is deemed to have already been granted.

Why have the current permitted development thresholds increased?

The increases to the permitted development thresholds are intended to unblock the planning system with a view to promoting growth and securing sustainable development. The intention is to circumvent what may be considered a complex and unresponsive planning system and therefore promote investment in real estate.

How does the GPD(A)O 2013 affect the existing permitted development thresholds?

1. Development within the curtilage of a dwelling house (residential property)

The permitted development threshold in respect of residential property has increased to allow rear extensions of up to 8 metres on detached houses (previously 4 metres) and up to 6 metres on other houses (previously 3 metres). However, this extension does not apply to protected areas such as conservation areas or properties located within the boundary of a national park.

Procedure – seeking “prior approval”

Where a developer wishes to develop a residential property in a way which would fall within the new permitted development threshold, the following procedure must be followed:-

(a) The developer must provide a written description of the development (including specific measurements and a plan) and the addresses of neighbouring properties to the Local Planning Authority (“the LPA”);
(b) The LPA will then notify the owners of the neighbouring properties, giving them 21 days to make representations in respect of the proposed development which will be considered by the LPA;
(c) The developer must not start the development project unless one of the following occurs:-
(i) Receipt by the developer of a written notice from the LPA that prior approval is not required;
(ii) Receipt by the developer of a written notice from the LPA that prior approval is given; or
(iii) 42 days have expired following the date the LPA received details of the proposed extension and the LPA has not notified the developer that prior approval is given or refused.

2. Change of use from offices to residential properties

The GPD(A)O also allows for the change of use from offices to residential houses. However, this permission is subject to prior approval from the Local Planning Authority in relation to transport, highways, contamination and flooding.

Please note that this particular change of use is not permitted where:-

(a) The building falls within the remit of certain local authorities (see Article 1(6A)of the GPD(A)O);
(b) The building was not used as an office immediately before 30 May 2013 (or if the building was not in use immediately before that date, when it was last in use). The intention of this limitation is to prevent developers from side-stepping the requirements for residential planning permission;
(c) The use of the building as a residential property was begun after 30 May 2016;
(d) The building is located on a safety hazard or military explosives safety area; or
(e) The building is a listed building or scheduled monument.

3. Changes of use (other)

The permitted change of use from “general industrial” or “storage and distribution”
to “business”, and the change of use from “business” or “general industrial” to “storage and distribution”, will now be permitted up to 500 square metres (formerly 235 square metres).

4. Office Buildings

The GPD(A)O also grants a permitted development right to extend or alter an office building by 50% or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser). Previous development rights only permitted 25% or 50 square metre extensions.
Please note that prior approval by the LPA is required in relation to the changes of use set out at points 2, 3 and 4 above and further advice should be sought as to the procedures to be followed before steps toward a change of use are undertaken.

For further information please contact Ann Ebberson or the partner with whom you usually deal.