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17 March 2016

Office to residential permitted rights to become permanent

Legislation will come into force on 6 April 2016 relating to the right to change from Class B1(a) office to Class C3 residential without planning permission.

The right was first introduced as a temporary measure in May 2013 and is set to expire on 30 May 2016.

The key changes to the permitted development right will be as follows:

  • the impact of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development will be considered in the determination of the prior approval. Currently the prior approval process only covers a limited number of matters namely, transport and highways, contamination risks and flooding risks;
  • the development must be completed within three years of prior approval, although no further guidance is given on exactly what needs to be done in order for the development to be considered 'complete';
  • the current 17 article 2(5) areas (where the permitted development rights do not apply) will no longer benefit from the exemption from May 2019, giving authorities a window in which to make an article 4 direction to remove the right permanently;
  • a statement specifying the net increase in dwelling houses proposed by the development must be submitted with the application.

When the Planning Minister confirmed in October 2015 that the rights would be made permanent, he also announced that the right would be extended to permit the demolition of office buildings and their replacement; however no such amendments have been included in the Order.

New rights have also been introduced to allow for the change of use from laundrettes and B1(c) light industry premises to residential use. The latter right will be temporary and will not come into force until 1 October 2017, allowing local planning authorities to introduce an article 4 direction to remove those rights in areas where residential use is not suitable.

This article was written by Sejal Patel. For more information, please contact Sejal on +44 (0)20 7203 5134 or