The Government has attempted to simplify planning and deliver growth through changes to the planning system and publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) plus 2 sets of planning reform measures as well as consultation on a third potential set of changes.

David Cameron identified the planning system required reform in March 2011 by stating ‘planning is the enemy of enterprise…… and requires simplification’. The NPPF of 2012 simplifies national planning guidance to a 55 page document and replaces the former Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) and Planning Policy Statements (PPS) by promoting a plan led system with a presumption in favour of sustainable development where it accords with the development plan for the area. However, only 56% of the UK has a current adopted Local Plan and problems arise where Local Planning Authorities where no adopted Local Plans are in place.

In addition to the above, there have been various changes to Permitted Development as follows:-

Changes in May 2013 (subject to 3 year time limit and a Prior Notification Consent)

• Change of Use between B1(a) (offices) to C (residential).
• Change of use of agricultural buildings to a variety of uses including A1 (shops), A2, (financial services), B1 (offices), B8 (warehouse / distribution), D2 (leisure) and cafes.
• Premises in a wide range of uses to state schools.
• A wide variety of temporary uses.

There are some areas where these Permitted Developments do not apply, including Central London, 2 areas of Manchester city centre, 9 areas of East Hampshire, 3 areas in the Vale of White Horse, 2 areas of Sevenoaks and 1 area of Ashford. The above permit change of use only, not physical works (separate planning consent required). The Prior Notification Consent needs to detail transport and highways impacts of the development, potential contamination risk on the site and flooding risks.

Changes in April 2014 (subject to a Prior Notification Consent)

• Change of Use from A1 (retail) and A2 (financial / professional services) to C3 (residential)
• Change of Use between A1 (retail) and A2 (financial / professional services) & premises over 150 sq m.
• Change of use to allow some agricultural buildings to C3 (residential).
• Change of use from various non-residential uses to a new state funded school of nursery.

These changes do not apply in Conservation Areas, National Parks, AONBs etc. The above permits change of use and physical works without the need for a separate planning consent. The Prior Notification Consent needs to demonstrate the design complies with planning policies, potential loss on the economy of the town centre or local character.

Further Proposed Changes in July 2014 (subject to a Prior Notification Consent)

• Change of Use from B1c (Light Industrial) and B8 (Warehousing) to C3 (residential). This will not apply in Conservation Areas, National Parks, AONBs etc.
• Removal of ‘controlled areas’ for Change of Use from B1 (offices) to C3 (residential) and 3 year time limit extended by a further 3 years in May 2013 changes (above).
• An additional test to preserve strategic office accommodation introduced.
• Widen the A1 Use Class to include A2 uses (excluding betting shops / pay day loan shops).
• Permitting development from A1 to A3 (max threshold 150 sq m) subject to prior approval.
• Change of Use permitted from A1/A2 to D2 (leisure).

Robin Wells BSc (Hons) MRICS
Associate RICS Registered Valuer