Changes confirmed to permitted development rights and use classes

In our blog post of 10 December 2018 (see here), we discussed the potential impact on developers and landlords of changes to permitted development (PD) rights and Use Class A which were being consulted on by the government. Despite widespread criticism, and counter to some calls for a greater role for local authorities in securing the futures of their town centres through holistic town planning, in a Written Statement on 13 March 2019 James Brokenshire announced that the government is implementing the majority of the proposals. Some of the changes to PD rights are to be made later this spring; other changes, such as upward extensions for residential use, will be dealt with in further regulations in the autumn. We were also told that we can expect an Accelerated Planning Green Paper later this year. Whilst the changes are intended to “[simplify and speed up] the planning system, to support the high street, make effective use of land and deliver more homes”, whether this can be achieved by these changes remains to be seen. This post discusses what the changes are, and what their impact could be within the context of wider change. Continue reading

Revised Electronic Communications Code – Code Red for Landowners

A revised new Electronic Communications Code has been introduced as one element of the recent Digital Economy Act 2017 (see our TMT ebulletin of 22 May 2017). The existing Code has long been declared unfit for purpose, hopelessly out of date and badly drafted. Introduced in 1984 to deal with the privatisation of British Telecom, it was tweaked slightly by the Communications Act 2003 but failed to keep pace with advances in digital communications technology and the public’s relentless appetite for electronic services.

The government has comprehensively overhauled the Code and aims to help operators expand their networks and upgrade infrastructure by lowering the cost and simplifying the roll out of such infrastructure. This is driven in particular by operators seeking to improve the data rich services sought by both consumers (such as video, social media and gaming services) and businesses (such as cloud-based services and those in respect of connected devices) as a result of rapidly emerging digital technologies and handset capabilities. These applications consume increasingly higher bandwidths and will require faster broadband speeds if operators are to meet future capacity, quality and reliability expectations. Operators were given enhanced permitted development rights at the end of last year, to the same end.

The new Code has not been welcomed by landowners, but the government has stated that it is simply putting communications on the same footing as other essential utilities such as water and energy.

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Planning Update: office to residential conversion rights made permanent, Mayor’s advice to local authorities on avoiding these rights, Mayor’s viability disclosure requirements, and CIL and mezzanine floors

Authors: Matthew White, Partner and Head of Planning, and Lucy Morton, Professional Support Lawyer, Planning, London

Today's post is a planning update, summarising some of the recent and forthcoming changes to planning law and policy.

Please contact us for more information on any of these topics.

1.    Office to residential conversion rights made permanent

2.    Mayor's advice to London authorities on avoiding the office to residential conversion rights (new SPG for the Central Activities Zone)

3.    Mayor calls for more transparent viability information (new Housing SPG)

4.    Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), mezzanine floors and multiple planning applications

5.    Coming soon…

 

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What to look forward to in 2016: Planning changes on the horizon

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Herbert Smith Freehills' real estate development team are monitoring a number of areas of law likely to change during 2016.  Here is a summary of some key areas of change we expect in the field of planning (from a development perspective), highlighting some opportunities these changes may present. 

For more information please contact Matthew White or Lucy Morton at Herbert Smith Freehills.

1. Office-to-residential conversion rights to be made permanent

2. Housing and Planning Bill due to become law

3. CIL Review Panel to report on whether CIL is meeting its objectives

4. Government's response expected on the National Planning Policy Framework consultation (including changes to green belt and affordable housing policies)

5. Affordable housing renegotiation provisions to expire on 30 April 2016, unless extended

6. Government due to respond to the Airports Commission Final Report (which recommended Heathrow expansion)

7. International property measurement standards changing

8. Carbon offsetting requirements expected to be amended or abolished

9.  National Infrastructure Commission to report at Budget 2016

 

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Demolition in Conservation Areas – no permitted development rights

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Since 1 October 2013 Conservation Area Consent has not been necessary for demolition of an unlisted building or enclosure in a conservation area, but the requirement now is to obtain approval for the demolition by planning permission (a change introduced by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013). Failure to receive approval before such demolition is a criminal offence.

It is important to note that the permitted development right for demolition of buildings is not available in relation to unlisted buildings in a conservation area. This means that if you want to demolish an unlisted building in a conservation area you must obtain express planning permission from the relevant planning authority.

For more information please contact:

Charlotte Dyer
Charlotte Dyer
Senior Associate, Planning, London
+44 20 7466 2275

Office to residential conversion rights to be made permanent

On the same day as announcing the Housing and Planning Bill (13 October 2015), the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the temporary permitted development rights which allow conversions from office to residential use will be made permanent. 

In May 2013 permitted development rights were altered to allow a change of use from offices (use class B1(a)) to residential (use class C3) without the need to make a full planning application.  The rights were due to expire on 30 May 2016 but the Government has now confirmed that the rights will be made permanent. This means that there is no rush to get prior approvals for converting offices into homes, or to complete the change of use, before 30 May.  Those who already have prior approvals or permission will have three years in which to complete the change of use. 

To further support the delivery of new homes, the rights will in future allow the demolition of office buildings and encourage new building for residential use. The current exemptions on economic grounds for some local authorities will be removed and those authorities will have until May 2019 to make an Article 4 Direction if they wish to opt out of the permitted development rights.

However we have not yet seen the amending legislation and the rights are proving controversial, with no requirements for affordable housing and no requirements relating to the quality of the homes.

Amending legislation is expected before 30 May 2016.

For more information please contact:.

Matthew White
Matthew White
Partner and Head of Planning, London
+44 20 7466 2461
Patrick Robinson
Patrick Robinson
Partner, Planning, London
+44 20 7466 2129