From 1 September 2020, the Government has revised national planning law to permit the use of certain buildings to change without the need for planning permission. The revisions introduced by the Government mean that uses such as shops, offices, restaurants, cafes, banks, estate agents and gyms are all now categorised as falling within a commercial, business and service ‘use class’ - Class E - and changes between these uses is automatically permitted.
Other revisions include the introduction of:
- a learning and non-residential institutions use class - F1 - which includes schools, libraries, places of worship and public halls, and;
- a local community use class - F2 - which includes community halls, swimming pools and small isolated shops.
Planning permission is required to change the use of a building to another use outside of the above use classes.
Uses such as hot food takeaways, public houses, cinemas and bingo halls have no use class and ,therefore, planning permission or the ‘prior approval’ of the Council would be required to change their use.
Permitted development: Building upwards
From 1 September 2020, the law also allows householders and some business owners to increase the height of their home/premises by up to 2 storeys to allow the extension of existing homes or the creation of new homes. These extensions are only allowed on buildings constructed between 1948 and 2018 and do not include extensions to listed buildings or buildings in a conservation area.
The upwards extension of buildings does not require planning permission, but is controlled via a ‘prior approval’ process which only allows the Council to consider specific matters such as the external appearance of the building/additional floors, whether there is adequate provision of natural light in habitable rooms, and the impact on the amenity of the existing building and neighbouring buildings.
The Council is not by law able to consider the impacts of these types of application on matters such as traffic, local services or air quality. Nor is the Council able to require affordable housing or contributions to the improvement of public open space.
Permitted development: Demolition of existing buildings and development of new homes
A further change to the planning system allows owners of vacant and redundant freestanding buildings with a footprint of up to 1000 square metres and built after 1989, to demolish them and building a new block of flats or a single new family home within the footprint of the original building, up to a maximum height of 18 metres.
This type of development does not require planning permission but is controlled via a ‘prior approval’ process. This does not allow the Council to consider the whether the principle of the development is acceptable. Only certain limited technical matters can be considered, such as the impact of the development on the highway, its design and external appearance, the impacts of noise on new occupiers and the impact of the development on the amenity of nearby properties. The Council is not able to require affordable housing or contributions to the improvement of public open space.