Will housing replace the high street?
Even discounting the publication of the Planning White Paper, it has been a busy year in the world of planning. From 31 August 2020, a raft of new permitted development rights were introduced – including the rights to add storeys to your home, to construct dwellings on top of purpose built flats, demolish certain buildings and construct new dwellings in their place and to construct flats on top of commercial/ mixed use or residential terraces (read about the details and numerous restriction on these rights here).
At the same time, from 1 September 2020 the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 was amended. This included the introduction of a new, Class E - Commercial, Business and Service. Class E combines the former use classes A1 (retail), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), B1 (business) and some D1 and D2 uses (see further details on the changes to the Use Class Order here).
The government is now consulting on a proposal for a new permitted development right in England to allow for a change from Commercial, Business and Service (Class E) use to residential (Class C3). If this were to be introduced, it would mean that any change of use from a property falling within Class E to a flat/home would not require the submission of a formal planning application. (There would, however, be a prior approval process – see below.)
It is no secret that the high street has been struggling in the past year. The consultation paper notes that there has been a net reduction of 5,350 units in town centres in England from June 2019 to June 2020 – and that trend looks set to continue (the news of Debenhams going into administration being just one recent example). In addition to the introduction to Use Class E, the government hopes that this right would help to “support our town centres and high streets in adapting to these changes to become thriving, vibrant hubs where people live, shop, use services and spend leisure time”.
The current proposals:
- The proposed right would permit a change from Use Class E to residential use (C3) and would replace the existing right permitting a change from office to residential.
- Currently, there is no intention to limit the size of the building that could benefit from this right (to allow for the conversion of a full vacant building for example).
- Similar to other existing rights, there would be exceptions for sites where development is more carefully controlled, for example sites of special scientific interest, listed buildings, areas of outstanding natural beauty etc. Interestingly, conservation areas may still benefit from the right – the consultation paper notes that conservation areas protect architectural/ historical value, but that allowing a more diverse range of uses may make these areas more sustainable.
- The prior approval process would involve consideration of factors such as flooding, transport and contamination as well as factors ensuring living conditions are suitable (for example, noise from existing commercial premises, provision of adequate natural light, fire safety).
- The prior approval fee is proposed to be £96 per dwelling with a maximum fee for 50 homes.
Such a right could be good news for developers looking to convert existing building to residential and has the potential to increase the supply of housing at a time when suitable housing is in short supply. The government envisages that this right will help address the surplus of retail floorspace and that “quality residential development will help diversify and support the high street”. It is a difficult balance: nobody wants a high street filled with empty stores, but people do still want some kind of high street. There is a risk that the rapid expansion of permitted development rights will mean that by definition councils will be unable to control piecemeal development – high streets may in the worst case disappear altogether and be replaced with housing. The proposals will therefore be controversial.
The consultation on this right is open now until 28 January 2021 - read more here.
Charity Training: Digital Transformation in the Charity Sector
We would be delighted if you could join us for the second session in our new series of bite-size webinars for charities.
Charity Training: Brand Protection
We would be delighted if you could join us for the first in our new series of bite-size webinars for charities.
The UK’s New Skilled Worker & Intra-Company Visa Routes: a closer look
Taking a closer look at the UK’s new visas to assist UK businesses.
Practicalities in Cladding Claims
Insight into Issues with Cladding Claims
EWS1 Forms - the latest episode
RICS have now published their highly anticipated guidance on when EWS1 forms will be required.
Q&A: Am I insured for COVID-19?
Laura Bushaway writes for Estates Gazette on a recent claim under the “disease clause” of business interruption policy.
The Purpose Podcast: Corporate purpose
Simon Ridpath discusses corporate purpose and the rise of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in “The Purpose Podcast”
Snail farms and other slow moving business (rates mitigation schemes)
Client alert: Construction under competition law spotlight
We outline the three investigations which have either recently concluded or are ongoing together with what this means for businesses.
New permitted development right to convert unused commercial premises into homes to come into force
Looking beyond the benefitted land: confirmation that an objector’s wider property may be considered in applications to discharge/modify restrictive covenants
Read our recent case study on applicants who were prevented from developing a new house due to a restrictive covenant covering their land.
Further extension of coronavirus restrictions affecting residential properties: Where are we now?
The extension will be implemented from and including 31 March 2021 by the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Knight Frank Wealth Report: The Global Perspective on Prime Property & Investment
Knight Frank partners joined Charles Russell Speechlys for a virtual panel-led discussion on the Knight Frank Wealth Report
Case Study: One Blackfriars Limited
An informative and positive judgment for administrators selling high-value property in distressed and complex scenarios.
Keeping Up With Construction: Handover at Practical Completion - Practical Pointers
Practical tips for the handover of a successful project.
Charles Russell Speechlys advises on Trident Royalties’ US$28m Placing
Trident Royalties plc is a growth-focused mining royalty and streaming company.
Temporary restrictions on winding-up petitions extended until 30 June 2021
As the restrictions are extended, read what it means for you here.
Commercial rent arrears: what are the latest restrictions on landlords’ remedies this quarter day?
What you need to know for this Quarter Day.
Charles Russell Speechlys advises Avation plc on £7.5m secondary placing
Headquartered in Singapore, Avation plc manages a fleet of aircraft which it leases to airlines across the world.
To Promote or not to Promote, that is the Option: Top 10 Tips with Promotion Agreements
Providing you with the top ten tips with promotion agreements - what should you know?