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Commercial to residential without applying for planning permission?

The changes provide some food for thought and more opportunities for creatively maximising development potential through the General Permitted Development Order.

The proposal out for consultation at the moment, until 30th June, is to provide a new Part in the GPDO that allows for the change from commercial (B1 use classes) to residential (C3 use class) to happen freely without the need for planning applications.

The reasons given are to encourage extra housing to meet shortfalls, promote regeneration of commercial land, and help bring empty commercial buildings back into productive use.

The government is also considering making changes of use from B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) to C3 (dwelling houses) permitted development and an opportunity to build on the current situation whereby it is possible to convert unused space above a shop into a flat.

Each of these proposals relates only to change of use. Any additional work to the exterior of an existing building (not considered to be de minimis) or for a new build development will need a planning application.

The government is expecting the market to decide on the appropriate locations for changes of use to residential. It is expecting that B1 uses are most likely to be already within suitable locations for housing and does not rule out edge of town commercial areas. I would suggest examples of sites might be mixed farm and light industrial uses in open countryside, edge of town or settlement, those which traditionally were flexibly converted in town centres and transition areas between commercial and residential.


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