20 January 2016 16:00
Preparation is key when it comes to Permitted Development Rights
Businesses could be given wider scope for building works, thanks to changes to Permitted Development rights but as Stephen Evans, Coodes Commercial Property Lawyer and planning specialist explains, preparation is key.
A national grant of planning permission by Parliament, Permitted
Development allows certain works or changes of use without lodging a specific
planning application with a local council.
Subject to various conditions, limitations and exceptions, which vary
considerably, special provisions also apply to developments affecting
environmentally or scientifically important or protected species, sites or
But recently, new regulations for Permitted Development rights have
come into force and consolidate provisions dating from 1995 and subsequently
amended 22 times.
Under the new rights, amusement arcades, casinos and certain commercial
properties as well as storage and distribution buildings can all now be
converted. The change of agricultural buildings to residential properties has
also been reclassified. Despite the changes, inconsistencies and resistance to
the policy by planning authorities continues to present real problems.
The first thing to establish when planning building works is whether it
amounts to development, which most building, engineering, mining or other
operations in, on, over or under land are. Also included is the making of any
material change in the use of a building or other land. And even where the
proposals meet the conditions of the development rights placed on them, they
may still need prior approval but not a separate planning application. But it
is best to check as there are exceptions.
There are two types of Permitted Development because there are two types
of development–operational and change of use. When it comes to change of use,
the changes are more extensive and focus on a wide range of property.
But if they amount to development, they will require a planning
application unless specifically authorised under other legislation. Some types
of Permitted Development still require advance notification to the local
authority and or prior approval.
This area of regulation is open to interpretation and can seem confusing
but if there is an irreconcilable difference of view between the developer and
the planning authority, certainty can be achieved in court.
Pragmatically, however, an application can be made to the planning
authority for a certificate of lawfulness. The grant or refusal of such a
certificate is legally binding on the authority.
For nearly all classes of Permitted Development, the issues need to be
look at carefully with preparation not only a matter of good sense but
essential to securing the best chance of a favourable outcome.