Permitted Development Planning Changes

New permitted development rights came into force yesterday (30th of May, 2013).  These changes are likely to have a significant impact on development in the coming years.


R.A.G. Architects has prepared a brief summary of these changes:-


• Office buildings will be allowed to be converted to residential use without planning permission in non-designated areas (for three years).  Prior approval will be required from the local authority to address issues related to transport and highways, development in areas of high flood risk, land contamination and safety hazard zones.

R.A.G. Architects has recently looked at a scheme to convert an outdated and under-used office building to residential use.  The concept was to create a strong contemporary design whilst retaining and updating the existing building façade and structure.

The photo and sketch below show the existing office building and the proposed changes to the façade for residential use.

Warwickshire Architect PD 01
Photo from Google Streetview

Warwickshire Architect PD 02


Additional Changes to Permitted Development


• There will be increased limits for householder extensions from 3m to 6m for semi-detached homes and from 4m to 8m for detached homes (for three years)

• Conversion of existing buildings such as offices, hotels, care homes, cinemas and concert halls to state-funded schools without planning permission.

• Agricultural buildings under 500 square metres can change to a flexible use of Shops, Financial and Professional services, Restaurants, Pubs, Cafes, Offices, Light Industrial, Storage and Distribution, Hotels and Cinemas, Music and Concert halls.  For buildings between 150 and 500 square metres, prior approval will be required to address flooding, highways and transport impacts, and noise impact.

• There will be increased flexibility in the use of non-residential buildings. Retail shops, financial and professional services, restaurants, cafes and businesses will be allowed to open for two years in buildings designated as shops, financial services, restaurants, pubs, hot food takeaways, business, non-residential institutions, leisure and assembly.

• Increased permitted development thresholds for business change of use from 235 square metres to 500 square metres for change of use from Office, Light Industrial or General Industrial to Storage and Distribution and from General Industrial to Storage or Office and Light Industrial.


There is a good possibility that Planning Authorities will retain control of development through the process of giving ‘prior approval’ which is required in most instances. This will involve submitting details and drawings along with a fee but regardless of this the changes are significant.  They will no doubt help to bring unused buildings back into use, improving neighbourhoods as well as the economy.

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