All change to the Use Classes Order as Permitted Development reaches new heights
July 23, 2020
On Tuesday (21 July) a series of planning measures were laid before Parliament giving effect to some of the announcements made in conjunction with the Prime Minister’s ‘Dudley Speech’ earlier in the month, when he pledged to “build, build, build” economic recovery.
The measures include two sets of amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 – to allow the construction of additional storeys on some buildings as well as the demolition and redevelopment of freestanding blocks of flats and certain commercial buildings for residential purposes – together with a set of amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes Order) 1987 to greatly increase the flexibility to change the use of premises such as shops and offices between uses that were previously in separate classes.
It is the latter that is potentially the most significant change, not just because it is the first substantial overhaul of the Use Classes Order since it was introduced over 30 years ago, but because it adopts a significantly different approach to changes of use between commercial, business and service uses than what went before (including those previously in separate classes or in separate parts of old Class A) with the majority now amalgamated into a single new Class E; and between what are now styled as ‘local community uses’ such as local shops and recreational facilities which are gathered into new Class F.2 largely on the basis of their local function rather than purely in terms of their land use characteristics.
The new classes of permitted development meanwhile allow a number of new ways to develop new residential accommodation without the need to obtain express planning permission to do so, either by increasing the size of an existing dwelling or by creating new self-contained accommodation in the form of flats above existing residential or commercial premises or new purpose-built single dwellings or blocks of flats in place of certain existing buildings. All require the prior approval of the local planning authority for various detailed matters and are subject to a number of conditions and limitations, with implications for their practical value in accelerating the supply of new housing in some areas.
The Use Classes Order Amendments -The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020
The new Use Classes Order provisions take effect from 1 September 2020 in England subject to transitional and savings provisions applicable during what is termed “the material period” between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2021.
With effect from 1 September 2020 Classes A and D of the existing Use Classes Order are revoked and Class B1 is omitted with in place a new Schedule 2 being brought into effect, providing for new use classes as follows:
- Class E –‘Commercial, Business and Service’ – into which existing Classes A1, A2, A3 and B1 are to be subsumed along with uses for indoor sport, recreation or fitness, or for the provision of medical or health service or for a creche, day nursery or day centre, where principally to visiting members of the public;
- Class F.1 – ‘Learning and Non-Residential Institutions’ – into which some of the uses in existing Classes D1 and D2 are to be subsumed;
- Class F.2 – ‘Local Community’ – into which some of the uses in existing D1 and D2 are to be subsumed, along with “a shop selling essential goods, including food, to visiting members of the public” in certain circumstances.
The list of uses which cannot be included in any specified use in a Use Class is expanded to include some Class A and some Class D uses, including the uses in existing Classes A4 and A5 and some of the uses in existing Class D1 and D2 such as a venue for live music performance and a cinema.
The flexibility afforded by new Class E will be of particular interest in town centres, making it on the one hand easier to re-occupy vacant shop premises without the need to obtain planning permission for some of the most likely alternative uses first, but on the other consequentially more difficult to resist a dilution in the retail function of parts of town centres though the introduction of non-retail uses in former shop premises.
The new Class F.2 combines a number of uses which are quite different from one another in their land use characteristics: a shop, a hall or meeting place for the principal use of the community, an area for outdoor sport or recreation and an indoor or outdoor swimming pool or skating rink. The aim is apparently to ensure that local community facilities can readily be changed to a new community use. How frequently changes between such disparate uses are likely is another matter.
The GPDO Amendments – The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No 2) Order 2020
The first set of amendments to the GPDO introduces a series of new classes of permitted development into Parts 1 and 20 of Schedule 2 of the 2015 Order as amended, coming into force at 9.00am on 31 August 2020.
In Part 1
Class AA – enlargement of a dwellinghouse by the construction of additional storeys
In Part 20
Class AA – new dwellinghouses on detached buildings in commercial or mixed use
Class AB – new dwellinghouses on terrace buildings in commercial or mixed use
Class AC – new dwellinghouses on terrace buildings in use as dwellinghouses
Class AD – new dwellings on detached buildings in use as dwellinghouses
The principle in each case is that the construction of up to two additional storeys of new residential accommodation (or one storey if the case of an existing building that is only single-storey) is permitted development subject to the prior approval of certain matters by the local planning authority. Where the new accommodation is an extension to an existing dwelling it may be to enlarge the dwelling (Part 1, Class AA) or to create additional dwellings in the form of flats (Part 20, Classes AC and AD).
The permission in Part 1 is subject to a number of conditions and limitations. They include that the prior approval of the local planning authority must be obtained for certain detailed matters, that the permission is only available in the case of existing dwellings constructed between 1 July 1948 and 28 October 2018 (other than those developed as a result of a change of use in accordance with other provisions in the GPDO which are excluded) and that the permission is subject to an overall limitation on height and/or on the overall increase in height and on the maximum floor to ceiling height of the extension.
The scope of prior approval under Part 1 includes the impact on the amenity of any adjoining premises, the external appearance of the dwellinghouse, air traffic and defence asset impacts and impacts on certain protected views.
The permissions in the new classes in Part 20 are only available in the case of buildings constructed between 1 July 1948 and 5 March 2018 and are subject to similar conditions and limitations, including that prior approval must be obtained for various detailed matters and that the permission is subject to limits on overall height etc.
The scope of prior approval under Part 20 includes in relation to extensions to commercial buildings, impacts from noise from any commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the new dwellings and impacts from an increase in residential use on the carrying out of any trade, business or other use in the area.
The GPDO Amendments – The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No 3) Order 2020
The second set of amendments to the GPDO introduces a new Class ZA to Schedule 2, Part 20 of the GPDO coming into force on 31 August 2020 at 10.00am under the heading: ‘demolition of buildings and construction of new dwellinghouses in their place’
The permitted development within the class is the demolition of one or other of a single purpose-built detached block of flats and any other single detached building comprising premises established for B1 use and existing on 12 March 2020 together with its replacement by a single building consisting of one or other of a purpose-built detached block of flats or a purpose-built detached dwellinghouse and the associated operations.
The permission is subject to a number of conditions and limitations, including the requirement to obtain the prior approval of the local planning authority as to various matters such as the design and external appearance of the new building, the transport and highway impacts of the development , impacts on amenity, impacts from noise from commercial premises, impacts from the introduction of residential use upon existing businesses and the method of demolition of the existing building.
The permission is not available where, for example, the building to be demolished was constructed after 31 December 1989, or if the demolition is relevant demolition within the meaning of s196A of the 1990 Act (i.e. the demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area), or where the footprint of the new building would extend beyond the footprint of the old building or where the overall height of the new building would exceed the height of the old building by more than 7 metres or be more than 18 metres above ground level, whichever is lower. The new building may not, in any case, be more than 2 storeys higher than the old building.