Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in our leading Planning & Environmental Law team, looks at Reading Borough Council's response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee's inquiry on permitted development (PD) rights.
On 23 March 2021 the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee launched an inquiry into the Government’s approach to permitted development rights. The inquiry intends to review permitted development “in respect of large-scale development, commercial to residential conversions and changes of use between different types of commercial and retail premises”.
The Council’s response raises a number of issues with permitted development rights for changes of use to residential including loss of income due to the lower fees applicable for prior approval application, the size, design and quality of homes created using permitted development rights, the lack of ability for councils to secure infrastructure and affordable housing provisions/contributions by way of Section 106 obligations and the impact such conversions have on commercial areas.
The conclusions drawn from the response were that reforms to permitted development rights were urgently required and that a number of permitted development rights should be removed so that the focus is on “small scale development, development which is unlikely to have significant impacts, or for certain types of important infrastructure or operations”.
The outcome of this review by the Government has not yet been published. However, in July 2021 the Government issued the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which now seeks to provide more protection against Article 4 directions. These Directions are made to restrict or remove permitted development rights in certain localities.
Paragraph 53 of the NPPF now provides that where Article 4 relates to a change from non-residential use to residential use it should be “limited to situations where an Article 4 direction is necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts (this could include the loss of the essential core of a primary shopping area which would seriously undermine its vitality and viability, but would be very unlikely to extend to the whole of a town centre)” and that “in all cases, be based on robust evidence, and apply to the smallest geographical area possible”.
Article 4 direction
Reading Borough Council voted at a Policy Committee Meeting on 23 September 2021 to make a non-immediate Article 4 direction. If this Article 4 direction is confirmed it is intended to come into effect on 31 October 2022 and will remove the following permitted development rights from a wide area within the Borough:
- Part 3 class MA – Change of use of commercial, business and service use to residential;
- Part 3 class M – change of use of hot food takeaway, betting office, payday loan shop, or launderette to residential;
- Part 3 class N – change of use of casino or amusement arcade to residential;
- Part 20 class ZA - Demolition of single, purpose built, detached block of flats or a single, detached office, light industrial or research and development building and its replacement with a detached block of flats or detached house;
- Part 20 class AA - Demolition of single, purpose built, detached block of flats or a single, detached office, light industrial or research and development building and its replacement with a detached block of flats or detached house; and
- Part 20 class AB - Demolition of single, purpose built, detached block of flats or a single, detached office, light industrial or research and development building and its replacement with a detached block of flats or detached house.
Consideration had been given to alternatives such as making an immediate Article 4 direction, including more permitted development rights or including a wider area within the scope of the Direction but based on the evidence gathered, possibility of compensatory payments and the revised guidance of the Government, these options were not pursued.
Should the Article 4 direction be confirmed and come into effect on 31 October 2021 this does not necessarily mean that any development under the above classes would not be permitted, just that they could not be carried out under the GPDO and via the prior approval route. The Council had criticised the Prior Approval process in its response to the Inquiry in that the considerations it can make in respect of development proposed under the GPDO are much less than those that can be considered in the determination of planning permission. Accordingly, sub-standard or otherwise unacceptable development could proceed under the GPDO compared to those developments subject to full planning applications.
The implication is that should a proposed development fall within the scope of the Article 4 direction and within one of the areas covered by it a full planning application would need to be made to the Council. This would involve paying the higher planning application fee and in many circumstances submitting more detailed drawings and documents.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.