The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published its response to the consultation regarding the relaxation of planning rules for change of use from commercial to residential.
In April 2011, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation paper on proposals to amend the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to make it easier to change the use of buildings from commercial to residential. The consultation followed an announcement in the 2011 Budget that the Government wanted to widen the categories of changes of use that can be made without the need to apply for planning permission. The Government suggested that, in order to free up more land for housing, it could allow land that was being used for business and industrial purposes to switch to residential use without planning consent.
The consultation closed in June 2011 and the DCLG, after considering the responses it received, intends to:
1. Include a new policy in the National Planning Policy Framework that local planning authorities “should normally approve planning applications for change to residential use and any associated development from commercial buildings (currently in B use classes) where there is an identified need for additional housing in that area, provided that there are not strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate”; and
2. Amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to extend existing permitted development rights which allow the space above shops and other town centre uses (class A1 and A2 uses) to be converted into a single flat without the need to submit a planning application, to allow for conversion into 2 flats.
The Government confirmed that it intends to implement these changes through legislation in October 2012.