“The Coalition Government's planning reforms continue apace. Planning fees are due to go up by 15% on the 22 November and two consultations have been issued this year on proposed changes to what can be done without the need to apply for planning permission.
“There is still some confusion as to how the changes will play out, but it is important to understand the reforms and take advantage where they might suit your needs. However, remember that your neighbours might be thinking the same”.
The government is considering allowing existing agricultural buildings to be converted to other uses
This is the message from Neil Henderson, Planning Advisor with H&H Land and Property as he discusses the latest changes in planning policy;
Following the Localism Act in 2011 and the issuing of the national planning policy framework in March this year, two consultation documents have been issued outlining proposed changes to permitted development rights. These rights set out what can be done without the need to make a planning application.
The first document, issued in June 2012, proposes amendments to the rules with regard to the following issues: re-use of existing and redundant agricultural buildings; temporary use of buildings; and, converting hotels to houses.
Re-use of existing and redundant agricultural buildings
The government is considering allowing existing agricultural buildings to be converted to other uses such as shops, financial and professional service uses, restaurants and cafes, business, storage and distribution uses, hotels, churches, theatre and leisure uses.
Some of these uses might generate considerable traffic and noise and therefore the government is likely to put some limitations on what can be done without the need for planning permission. Nevertheless, this would permit significant changes to take place without scrutiny by a planning authority. This is obviously good news for those who own such buildings and have plans to convert them, but is not necessarily such good news for those who live nearby.
Temporary Use of Buildings
The Government are also considering opening up premises to new business and allowing redundant buildings to be brought back into use. This is by permitting the temporary use of buildings without the need to apply for planning permission. This would be for certain specified new uses, for a period of two years. Possible temporary uses include retail, financial and professional services such as banks, building societies and estate agents and light industrial and office uses.
To prevent inappropriate temporary use, it is proposed that local authorities would be notified of proposed changes giving them an opportunity to validate uses and allow subsequent monitoring. At the end of this temporary period, the use of the building would revert to its initial use unless a planning application is submitted and approved.
Hotels to Houses
Finally, it is proposed that hotels, boarding and guest houses might be converted to houses without requiring planning permission, in order to boost the number of new homes available.
The Government has recognized that the type of buildings suitable for change of use and residential conversion are likely to be the smaller premises.
It is important to note that all the above changes refer to change of use only, and therefore if physical changes such as extensions or external alterations are needed then planning permission would still be required. Internal changes to a building do not generally require planning permission.
Consultation on this document ended in September so we can expect further action once all the responses are digested by the Government.
The second consultation has received far more publicity, with the most controversial proposal to do with house extensions. Currently, the depth of a single storey extension to the rear of a house can be up to 4 metres for a detached house, and up to 3 metres for all other houses. The proposal is to extend these limits to 8 metres and 6 metres respectively. No changes are proposed for two storey extensions, and the new limits will not apply in protected areas such as National Parks and Conservation Areas. The intention is that the extend limits will apply for three years only.
There are other proposed changes which have received less press attention. The size limits for extending shops, professional/financial services and offices would go up to 100 square metres. New industrial buildings within existing industrial premises would be permitted up to 200 square metres. Both these changes would apply for a three year period as well.
The intention is that allowing more extensions to take place without the need to seek planning permission, for a limited period, will stimulate the construction industry with benefits for the wider economy.
The main concerns that have been raised are that potentially unneighbourly developments will take place without any control by the local planning authority and also that suburban gardens will be increasingly built upon.
If you have any views on this matter you have until Christmas Eve to have your say.
For more information contact H&H Land and Property on 01228 406 260.
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