The government have recently confirmed the new permitted development right (PDR) for change of use of properties from Use Class E (commercial, business and service use) to Use Class C3 (residential use). Use Class E includes shops, cafes, offices, restaurants, banks, nurseries and gyms. The change has been introduced in The Town, and Country Planning (General Permitted Developments etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021, which came into force on 21st April 2021, but the PDR will come into effect on 1st August 2021.
The PDR means that formal planning permission will not be required, but anyone wanting to take advantage of it will still need to apply to the local authority. The application will be via a fast track approval process, and there will be a fee of £100 per dwelling (up to a maximum of £5,000).
The local authority will assess the impact of the change of use on flooding, transport, contamination, noise impact, natural light in habitable rooms and impact on future residents if the building is in an area the authority considers important for heavy industry waste management, storage and distribution. In cases where the change is from a children’s nursery or health centre, the authority will also consider the impact of the loss of these services.
In order for the PDR to apply, a few requirements must be met:
The introduction of the PDR reflects the government’s efforts to provide more homes and revitalise the high street, particularly in the wake of the Covid pandemic. The hope is that with more flexibility to convert commercial buildings to residential, there will be fewer unused buildings on the high street, and it will inject more life into town centres by increasing the amount of accessible, affordable housing.