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New planning practice guidance and permitted development rights

25 March 2014

The Government announced on 7 March 2014 the launch of new planning practice guidance (PPG) and introduced new permitted development rights.

Planning Practice Guidance

The new PPG is now available online only at this link and replaces a long list of familiar guidance and advice documents.

The PPG covers a wide range of topics of relevance to those involved in planning policy and applications. As practitioners become familiar with the new guidance, no doubt there will be arguments in appeals and examinations as to the implications of the new pared back approach.

There is perhaps a nod to next year's elections in the guidance on plan-making. The wording on prematurity is slightly softened. It is made clear that unmet housing need is unlikely to be regarded as 'very special circumstances' justifying development in the green belt.

Local plans may still be sound even where land for growth has not been identified in years 11 to 15. Clarification is given on the role of the duty to co-operate - it is not a duty to agree (in direct opposition to Labour's mooted 'right to grow'). 

New permitted development rights

At the same time as launching the PPG, the Government announced the outcome of its August 2013 consultation paper on further changes to permitted development rights.

  • Subject to conditions, changes from shops (A1) and financial and professional services (A2) of up to 150 square metres to residential (including necessary building operations) will become permitted development. Certain protected areas eg conservation areas will be excluded. The prior approval mechanism will apply in respect of transport, contamination, highway and design issues. It will also allow authorities to block "undesirable" changes where essential community services could be lost or a detrimental impact caused to key shopping areas. Shops will also be able to change to banks, building societies, credit unions and friendly societies (A2), but not betting or payday loan shops.
  • Up to 450 square metres of agricultural buildings on farms can be converted to a maximum of 3 houses (necessary building operations are permitted). Again, complex conditions apply and certain protected areas will be excluded, notably including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Prior approval will address transport, noise, contamination and flooding issues. The authority will be able to block changes where it considers the location of the building means the proposed change "impractical" or "undesirable". 
  • Registered nurseries will be able to benefit from permitted development rights available to state funded schools. Changes of agricultural buildings up to 500 square metres to state funded schools and registered nurseries will be permitted.

Secondary legislation bringing the above into effect has been published and will come into force on 6 April 2014.

This article was written by Claire Fallows.

For more information please contact Claire on +44 (0)20 7427 1046 or claire.fallows@crsblaw.com