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Converting shops to residential

John Bowman
12/06/2014

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United Kingdom

On 6 April 2014, further changes to The Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 will come into force.

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First appeared in Informer: Real Estate Newsletter - Spring/Summer 2014

On 6 April 2014, further changes to The Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 will come into force.  This is part of the Government's ongoing plan to simplify the planning process and encourage development and follows on from the permitted development rights to convert offices to residential that came into force last year.  The changes will enable the following developments to take place without the need to obtain planning permission:

  1. Change of use from a shop (Use Class A1) to financial and professional services (Use Class A2).

  2. Change of use from a shop (Use Class A1) or financial and professional services (Use Class A2) to residential (Use Class C3) (maximum floorspace of 150 sqm) and the building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building to residential use.

  3. Change of use from an agricultural building to a state-funded school or nursery.

  4. Change of use from an agricultural building to residential (Use Class C3) and the building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building to residential use.

There are a number of restrictions (e.g. the permitted rights do not apply to listed buildings, conservation areas, national parks, AONBs, SSSIs or safety hazard areas) and a developer must notify the local planning authority of the change of use as soon as reasonably practicable.

For a change of use from a shop to residential, the developer must apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether prior approval is required in relation to transport and highways impacts, contamination and flooding risks and whether it is undesirable for the building to change to a residential use because:

(a) of the impact on the provision of retail/financial services in the area (but only if there is a reasonable prospect of the building being used to provide such services) or

(b)  if the building is located in a key shopping area.   

This suggests that a developer will need to supply evidence that reasonable efforts have been made to market the building for retail use without success.  Unlike the rights to convert offices to residential, this provision is aimed at enabling the local planning authority to limit the use of these rights to shops that have been vacant for a long time.

John Bowman, Partner, Planning and Environmental Group

Claire Brodrick, Associate, Planning and Environmental Group

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