New Permitted Development Rights – Enough to make a farmer forget the weather or a shop owner rejoice?
Hot on the heels of controversial measures to allow change of use of offices to residential new powers were launched in April to allow some agricultural buildings and shops to be converted to residential uses.
The new powers continue the rather curious system of requiring potential developers to go through a “prior approval process” under which they must advise Councils of their intentions and there are a limited set of circumstances in which the Council can then require that a planning application be submitted. But, as illustrated in a recent appeal case, the Government intends that those powers to require planning applications to be made should be used in only a strict interpretation of those limited circumstances.
In the case of putative changes from agriculture a Council can require an application to be made where “..the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use..” to a dwellinghouse. We can wait with interest to see how Councils will chose to exercise that power as part of the prior approval process. The building has to have been in agricultural use on 20 March 2013 and the permitted development only extends to minor external works for the purpose of conversion rather than extensions.
Meanwhile, back in the High Street, which the Government tells us it wishes to defend, shops in existence on 20 March 2013 of up to 150sqm can change to residential use provided it is not a Listed Building or one of the other (more limited) exceptions – subject to the prior approval process.
Even though I am unconvinced that either of these measures is going to solve the housing supply crisis every little helps and there will be farmers and shop owners who can take a significant benefit from the measures. As ever, if you think that your own property might benefit please give us a ring and we will help you through the process.