Extension to office to residential permitted development rights

On Friday 11th March regulations were laid before parliament for the permanent extension of the office to residential permitted development rights, which will come into force on 6th April 2016.

Existing Permitted Development Rights

Permitted development rights were first introduced in 2013 allowing the change of use of offices that were in lawful use on 29th May 2013 to residential. The change of use is subject to a number of conditions, including that the residential use of the building is begun by 30th May 2016. Proposals must also receive the ‘prior approval’ of the local planning authority on the transport and highways impacts of the development, and flood and contamination risks on the site.

Proposals are not otherwise subject to planning policy or housing standards, and are not required to make affordable housing or other planning contributions. The rights are for change of use only and do not include external works.

Article 2(5) of the permitted development order exempts large parts of central London, Manchester and other parts of the country from availing of the permitted development rights. A number of local authorities have separately introduced Article 4 directions, removing the permitted development rights within defined areas.


Amendments have now been introduced under secondary legislation and will come into force on 6th April 2016, and are as follows:

  • Residential use will no longer need to have begun by May 2016. Instead, developments with prior approval must be completed within a period of 3 years starting from the date prior approval was granted. The extended timescale applies to both new proposals and developments that have already received prior approval.
  • From 1st June 2019 Article 2(5) will be removed, no longer exempting certain areas. This will allow local authorities to introduce Article 4 directions in advance of this time, potentially removing the permitted development rights within defined areas. Existing Article 4 directions will continue to be in force.
  • Prior approval will continue to be required for transport, flood risk and contamination impacts, however, in new applications local authorities will also consider the impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development.
  • Finally, applications will need to provide a statement specifying the net increase in dwellinghouses proposed by the development

The extension of the permitted development rights has been expected since October 2015 when Brendon Lewis, the Housing and Planning Minister, announced they would be made permanent.

The amendments are in-line with this announcement with one crucial omission - the Government had announced that the rights would allow the demolition of office buildings and their replacement with new buildings for residential use. This is not included in the current regulations and there is no indication if this right will be provided at a later date.

The legislation also allows the change of use of a laundrette to residential use, creates a temporary right to change a building in light industrial to residential use and introduces new permitted development rights for mineral exploration.

If you would like to know more about these amendments and how they may affect your site please contact:

Karen Jones
Operations Director
0207 832 0259

Matthew Brewer
0207 832 0254

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