Permitted development rights consultation

We’d like to hear from members to inform our response to the consultation on extending permitted development rights.

4 December 2018

Alongside the Budget on 29 October, the Government launched a consultation on various measures to improve the planning system. These included proposals to extend the scope of permitted development to allow residential development.

Traditionally about minor works and changes of use, permitted development allows for development work without the need for planning permission. It has been significantly extended in recent years to include the conversion of offices, storage and industrial buildings to residential use.

This has brought forward over 40,000 new homes since 2015 – although a recent report found only 30% of conversions met national space standards, and that location and design were often poorer than homes delivered through traditional planning. Permitted development conversions are also exempt from Section 106 contributions, meaning they need not contribute to affordable housing.

The current proposals

The largest part of the current Planning reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes consultation concerns extending permitted development. In particular, it seeks views on allowing:

  • upward extension on commercial and residential buildings to create residential units, subject to prevailing rooflines and a maximum of five storeys from ground level
  • additional rights for upward extension of free-standing residential blocks, perhaps also up to five storeys
  • further permitted development rights for upward extension to create new homes on other types of premises including health and leisure centres and out-of-town retail and leisure parks
  • demolition of commercial buildings and redevelopment for residential uses through new permitted development rights
  • conversion of hot food takeaways to residential use (many shop-type uses already have this right)
  • the making permanent temporary rights to convert certain storage or distribution premises to residential.

The consultation addresses the issue of prior approval fees inadequate to cover their administration costs by suggesting that applications should attract “an appropriate fee”. It also proposes prior approval would apply to construction processes.

It may be worth noting that planning policy already supports upward extensions. National planning policy states that policies and decisions should:

“support opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes. In particular, they should allow upward extensions where the development would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, is well-designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.”

The Federation's response

We intend to respond to the consultation and are seeking members’ views to help do so. In particular:

  • whether members favour the proposed changes – and with what caveats, if any
  • your experience (if any) of recent PD extensions, particularly whether it has led to additional homes over what would have been delivered through traditional planning processes
  • whether you would expect to use the proposed changes (and which), if confirmed
  • what additional or alternative changes to the planning system would enable a greater quantity or quality of residential development, particularly on the sites targeted by the proposed changes?

We would welcome member feedback by 4 January to enable us to meet the Government’s deadline of 14 January.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Duncan Neish.