Summary of the latest Permitted Development changes - May 30th
Amendments to the GPDO [in England only] were published on 9th May and come into effect on 30th May 2013.
The proposals to expand permitted development [PD] limits for residential extensions and to introduce an ability
to change from office [Class B1(a)] to residential [Class C3] use had had the most pre-publicity, but there are
several other changes to the existing provisions and several new classes that have been brought into the permitted
As a result of significant objections received during the initial consultation period and the passage of the
draft legislation through parliament, many of the new provisions will be subject to a formal prior approval process
before the PD rights can be exercised. For the larger rear residential extensions, Eric Pickles has introduced what
he terms ‘light touch public consultation’ as part of the prior approval process.
Mr Pickles has effectively created a ‘free’ planning application process – although the small print contains a
suggestion that fees will be introduced for the non-householder prior approval procedure – to be administered by
hard-pressed local planning authorities, begging the question of how the changes are going to speed up the planning
process or encourage more development.
In addition, because many of the changes are being promoted by The Treasury and BIS Department simply as a
temporary measure to boost the economy, they are subject to a ‘sunset clause’ meaning that several of the GPDO
amendments only run until 30th May 2016.
- Residential Extensions Part 1 Class A
This is the change that caused Mr Pickles to promise to introduce a ‘light touch consultation’ regime during the second reading of the Growth & Infrastructure Bill in the House of Commons in late April, in order to head off a rebellion by MPs that threatened to scupper the entire Bill. [NB - The G&I Act 2013 simply gave the Secretary of State the power to introduce the current GPDO changes to domestic PD rights, it did not - as was erroneously reported at the time – introduce the changes themselves].
- Minor Operations Part 2 Class A
This small change allows schools to erect a fence, wall or other means of enclosure up to 2m in height adjacent to a highway - rather than the normal height limit of 1m – provided: ‘it does not create an obstruction to the view of persons using the highway as to be likely to cause danger to such persons’.
- Changes of Use within Business Classes Part 3 Class B
Under this change to existing GPDO provisions, the permitted movement between uses is unchanged – i.e. a) from B1 or B2 to B8, and b) from B2 or B8 to B1 - but the maximum floorspace limit has been increased from 235m² to 500m². The other qualifying criteria are unchanged.
- Change of Use from Office to Residential Part 3 Class J
This is a new category of permitted development, under which it is possible to change from Class B1(a) office to Class C3 residential use. It is subject to a sunset clause expiring on 30th May 2016.
- Change of Use to School Part 3, Classes K and L
The new Class K allows the change of use from Class B1, C1, C2, C2A or D2 to a ‘state-funded school’ [Class D1]. This allowance does not extend to Listed Buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments and is subject to a condition precluding a future change to other Class D1 uses without planning permission.
- Change of Use of Agricultural Buildings Part 3 Class M
This is another new class which allows the change of use of ‘a building or any land within its curtilage’ from use as an agricultural building to a ‘flexible use’ falling within Class A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or C2. There is a cumulative maximum floorspace limit of 500m² for each agricultural unit.
- Temporary Use as a School Building Part 4 Class C
This new class allows the use of any building and land within its curtilage as a state funded school – including an academy - for a single academic year.
- Temporary Use of Buildings Part 4 Class D
This is yet another new class which sets up a flexible temporary change of use regime. It allows the change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from Class A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 or D2 use, to a ‘flexible use’ falling within Classes A1, A2, A3, or B1 for a continuous period of up to 2 years.
- Non Residential Extensions
These are each subject to a sunset clause expiring on 30th May 2016. Extensions to Industrial and Warehouse Buildings [Part 8, Class A]
- Extensions to Office Buildings Part 32 Class A
There is a similar amendment to the current PD extension rights for Class B1(a) office buildings, The maximum floorspace for additions to the original building is increased to 100m² or 50%, whichever is the lesser [previously it was 50m² or 25%].
- Extensions to Buildings in Class A Use Part 42 Class A
This temporary increase in PD rights only applies to Class A1 & A2 uses, even though Class 42 as a whole applies to all A-Class uses.
- Commentary on the PD amendments
Many of these changes to the GPDO do seem to be unnecessarily complicated and contrived, particularly the so-called ‘light touch’ consultation regime for larger householder extensions, as hurriedly drawn up by Eric Pickles in order to secure the passage of the Growth & Infrastructure Act through parliament.