Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Permitted Development Rights made permanent

News the Government is to make permitted development rights (PDR) – which enable offices to be converted into homes without applicants having to apply for planning permission – a permanent fixture of the planning system, could be a double edged sword for Kent.

Introduced in 2013 as a temporary measure and due to expire on 30 May next year, PDR allow the demolition of office buildings and light industrial buildings, including for some strange reason launderettes, for residential use. 

With demand for homes continuing to outstrip supply, many commercial property owners will welcome the news as a way of unlocking the value of their assets.

However, many small businesses will find themselves with no home, and with a current shortage of small office space the search for new premises could be a challenging one.

For those companies looking to relocate from town centre locations the search is also likely to be challenging, as property supply continues to dwindle.

Developers who already successfully secured PDR approval will have three years in which to complete the change of use. This may compound the issue of uncertainty for businesses searching for new premises or bringing forward new residential properties, as developers consider their best options.

Many councils, and their economic development officers, will no doubt be monitoring the situation carefully. The issue will be of particular interest to those authorities going through the Local Plan process and wrestling with how to balance land for housing with land for employment, and pressure from the public and politicians to protect the green belt. 

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has announced that the 17 local planning authorities – including Ashford and Sevenoaks in Kent – with existing exemptions from office-to-residential permitted development rights have until May 2019 to make Article 4 directions enabling them to require planning applications for such changes of use.

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