Additional permitted development rights, but for how long?

2nd June, 2015

During the life of the coalition government there has been a flurry of amendments to Permitted Development (PD) regulations in an effort to ‘cut red tape’ and stimulate the recovering economy. 

These have included a raft of generous PD allowances for householders, commercial premises and rural land owners. The most recent of these came into force in April 2014. Under the new provisions it will now be possible, in some instances, to avoid the need for full planning permission when converting agricultural buildings to residential use.

Barn Conversions

To take advantage of these new rights it will be necessary to submit a ‘prior approval’ application to the Council prior to any development commencing. 

The Council will then assess whether further information is required on the following:  

  1. Transport and highways impact of the development;
  2. Noise impacts of the development;
  3. Contamination risks on the site;
  4. Flooding risk on the site, and
  5. Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to residential dwelling.

Whilst the new rights were intended to avoid the need for lengthy and complicated planning applications, the wording of the 5 criteria set out above is open to significant interpretation, with some local authorities taking a very hard line on how the criteria are applied.

That said, in many instances the new rights could present an excellent opportunity to pursue fresh building conversion proposals that might have previously been refused consent. For any queries on barn conversion proposals please contact one of our planning team.   

Closing window of opportunity?

Many of the new permitted development rights were always intended to be for a limited time only, including:  

  • Change of use from office to residential (ends 30th May 2016);
  • Threshold increases for the extension of commercial properties (ends 30th May 2016); 
  • Larger householder extensions (ends 30th May 2016).
  • Notwithstanding this, the recent comments made by Vince Cable about  ‘Perverse Conversion Rules’ have made it clear that the relaxation of PD rights is a Conservative led initiative and any change of government following the general election might see the current position reversed.

Those considering utilising the allowances currently in place should not necessarily rely on them remaining in force past May 2016. For all queries relating to Permitted Development, please contact one of our planning team.