Developers and industry professionals alike are delighted that the temporary rules “Permitted Development Rights or PDR” removing the need for a planning application for certain changes of use of premises from business to residential, are to become permanent.
The temporary rules allowed changes from B1 use (business – offices, research and development premises and light industry) to C3 use (dwellinghouses) without the need for planning permission. The rules were intended to regenerate commercial land, reduce the number of empty commercial properties, bring more domestic properties onto the market and reduce the environmental impact of activity on land.
The rules were to expire in May 2016, and this created a barrier to potential schemes for both prospective developers and their lenders, due to uncertainty around whether planning would subsequently be required. However, the Government has now said it will make the rules permanent. On top of this however, some further changes will be made when the new, permanent rules are introduced, including:
- A three-year time limit, within which such conversions must be completed (including conversions which have already received approval).
There is currently no indication of what ‘completed’ will mean:
- Allowing demolition of industrial buildings, to be replaced by residential new builds.
- Changes are planned to the existing prior approval criteria. However, there are special changes in relation to exemptions, which will affect particular areas such as the City of London and the Central Activities Zone.
The scheme will also be extended to enable the conversion of light industrial buildings and launderettes to new residential homes – a further boost to developers.
There is now an excellent opportunity to consider whether to resurrect conversion projects currently on hold, due to uncertainty whether the scheme would be extended, and consider new conversion schemes. Professional advice should of course always be taken to ensure that the scheme has the appropriate and correct planning consents.
Needless to say, we are at the forefront of funding such schemes, with access to the whole of the market to obtain the best advice and terms for clients. We will be delighted to assist any clients who are involved in this type of scheme, or indeed any type of development or refurbishment project.