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Extended permitted development rights take effect this month

Words: Laura Edgar
Office conversion / Shutterstock_501902

The extension of permitted development rights to allow high street conversions to offices and homes is to come into effect on 25 May.

The regulations were laid before Parliament earlier this month. They do not include the right to allow upward extensions.

The legislation creates a new class, JA of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). It allows local authorities to consider proposals for the conversion of shops and other high street uses such as takeaways and launderettes to offices under the prior approval process. Class M already allows retail and sui generis uses to be converted to residential without the need for planning permission, but the new regulations would allow takeaways to be converted to housing.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has responded to the legislation, claiming that making some development easier risks undermining local community and authority influence.

CPRE said it fears that extending this policy would enable developers to convert shops and local businesses without scrutiny, removing decisions and control from local authorities. Furthermore, local people would have little say over the type and tenure of developments on their high streets.

Matt Thomson, head of planning at CPRE, said: “We welcome any reasonable measures that lead to the more effective use of previously developed land, and support the increased densification of urban areas. However, this plan is of deep concern. It presents a short-sighted attempt to increase housing numbers, undermines the planning system and ignores a variety of issues and complexities which should be taken into account for such proposals.

“A blanket approach for uncontrolled redevelopment of commercial buildings is unlikely to lead to good placemaking. It remains unclear how extending permitted development rights will ensure high-quality, affordable redevelopment – that connects with existing, and contributes to, new infrastructure – without the intervention of a normal planning application.”

A number of organisations have expressed concerns about extending permitted development rights, including the RTPI. In March, the institute urged housing and planning minister Kit Malthouse to scrap proposals that would see commercial buildings on high streets converted into homes without planning permission.

Read more:

Malthouse urged to drop permitted development for high streets

Organisations warn against poor design resulting from permitted development

Image credit | Shutterstock