The latest Government's announcements and the Housing and Planning Bill 2015

Potential impacts on the development industry

The Government recently issued two press statements related to the delivery of new housing and published the Housing and Planning Bill. These announcements include amendments to the existing permitted development regime and introduced new planning tools aimed at boosting housing delivery in the UK.

Permitted Development – Office to Residential

The press release issued on 13th October 2015 announced changes to the existing permitted development rights and the addition of new rights:

  • The current permitted development rights for the conversion of offices to residential, which were due to expire in April 2016, will be made permanent
  • Those who already have permission for a change of use from office to residential under these permitted development rights will benefit from a time extension to complete the change
  • A new permitted development right is to be introduced, allowing for the demolition of office buildings and construction of new buildings for residential use
  • A new permitted development right is to be introduced, allowing changes of use from light industrial buildings (Class B1c) and laundrettes (Class A1) to residential (Class C3).

The Government also stated that the areas in which ‘office to residential’ permitted development rights do not currently apply will have to make an Article 4 Direction before May 2019 if they wish to continue to determine applications for the change of use.

Further details are expected on when these rights will come into force and the precise details of how they will be implemented.

The Housing & Planning Bill 2015

The Bill aims to assist the government in meeting its ambition of delivering one million houses by 2020.

The following planning highlights from the Bill have been identified:

  • Local Planning Authorities will need to prepare, maintain and publish a register of brownfield sites, with automatic
    ‘permission in principle’ granted for sites identified on these registers
  • Local Planning Authorities must facilitate and promote the delivery of 200,000 new ‘starter homes’
  • There will be a legal duty for Local Planning Authorities to facilitate the delivery of starter homes
  • Development Consent Orders for significant infrastructure projects can, for the first time, include an element of housing development
  • Under-performing Local Planning Authorities must produce local plans by 2017, with the threat of Government
    intervention if this is not achieved.

The cutting-edge expertise of RPS CgMs

RPS CgMs can offer a wide range of services to our clients as these new powers and measures are introduced. The new permitted changes of use will continue to be subject to the submission of Prior Approval requests or local limitations. If you own properties which will benefit from new permitted development rights, we can manage the preparation of applications for Prior Approval from start to finish, ensuring that all the supporting documents comply with the new regulations.

We have successfully managed many applications and Prior Approvals for ‘office to residential’ conversions, and can assist in advising on the delivery of new homes via the new ‘demolish and rebuild’ permitted development right. We can prepare environmental, transport and flood risk assessments for large office sites to support these applications.

With the introduction of the ‘permission in principle’ for brownfield sites, councils will need to prepare and publish public registers of land allocated to specific uses. Our team can prepare bids to promote sites for inclusion in these registers and advise developers during the ‘automatic permission’ process.

Applications considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure project regime will now be able to comprise an element of housing. It is anticipated that under this provision approximately 500 homes could be included as part of infrastructure projects. This new section of the Planning Act should assist with unlocking the development potential of many proposed and forthcoming infrastructure projects. With many strategic infrastructure projects in the pipeline across the UK, RPS CgMs are able to utilise our experience and expertise to assist developers in securing Development Consent Orders for new infrastructure projects and “related” housing clusters.

It is evident that Local Planning Authorities are coming under increasing pressure to make provisions to meet housing need. The deadline for the adoption of up to date Local Plans will require councils to speed up the identification of allocated housing sites. With a consistent record of promoting sites through the Development Plan process, RPS CgMs can advise developers and investors on potential development sites and promote sites through this process.

For any queries on the upcoming changes in the industry and to discuss the delivery of new projects, please contact:

Midlands & North
Tim Partridge
T: +44 (0) 121 213 5500 E:
Karen Jones
T: +44 (0) 20 7583 6767 E:
South East
Christopher LeCointe
T: +44 (0) 1235 821 888 E:
South West & Wales
Darren Parker
T: +44 (0) 29 2066 8662 E:

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