Approved plansOn 6 March, the UK Government announced its latest planning reforms, aimed at cutting red tape and allowing greater flexibility to use existing buildings for residential use.

New permitted development rights will allow shops (A1 use class) and financial and professional offices (A2 use class) to be converted to residential use without the need for full planning permission.

Similarly agricultural buildings will have permitted development rights to convert to residential use. This will be restricted to 450 sqm of floorspace and up to three residential units but will also allow minor external alterations necessary to facilitate the residential use. It is likely that a light touch ‘prior approval’ process will require Councils to look at certain details of schemes, including flooding risk, siting and access, aimed at ruling out unsuitable buildings and locations. These new agricultural permitted development rights will not apply in Conservation Areas or National Parks.

The detailed legislation is due to be issued early in April 2014. We expect to comment further upon its general release.

If you are interested to know more about the impact of the reforms please do not hesitate to contact a member of the planning team.