New planning rules for change come into effect — regime relaxed for change of use from office to residential

By Lynne Horay

In our February edition of GD Online, we highlighted the changes which the government was proposing to introduce in relation to permitted development rights, particularly the change of use from offices (Class B1(a)) to residential (Class C3) without the need for planning permission. The legislation came into force on 30 May 2013.

The relaxation of the requirement for planning permission for a change of use from office to residential is a new permitted development right, which allows property owners and/or developers to change the use of a building without having to go through the planning application process, which can prove time consuming and often costly. The idea was that the new scheme allowing such change of use without planning permission would ‘make the best use of existing developed sites and facilitate speedier conversion of redundant office space into desirable residential accommodation’.

That said, local authorities were permitted to apply for exemptions from the new permitted development right, and many of them have been successful in obtaining exemptions in relation to large areas of their boroughs…

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