New Permitted Development Rights Coming Into Force For Light Industrial To Change To Residential

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Recent years have seen the introduction of a number of new permitted development rights, in particular for the change of use of buildings to dwellings in an effort to boost housing. So far these have included permitted development rights allowing the change of use of agricultural buildings, offices and storage buildings to residential use.

From the first of 1st October 2017 a new right comes into force;

Under Class PA of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO 2015) a building that was in use class B1c, which is light industrial use - suitable for a residential area,   on 19th March 2014, or when last in use before that date,  can change use to a dwelling house, subject to meeting certain criteria.

Development is not permitted if;

  • The gross floor space of the building exceeds 500 square meters
  • the site is occupied under an agricultural tenancy, unless the express consent of both the landlord and the tenant has been obtained
  • less than 1 year before the date the development begins— (i) an agricultural tenancy over the site has been terminated, and (ii) the termination was for the purpose of carrying out development under this Class, unless both the landlord and the tenant have agreed in writing that the site is no longer required for agricultural purposes
  • the site is, or forms part of— (i) a site of special scientific interest; (ii) a safety hazard area; (iii) a military explosives storage area
  • the building is a listed building or is within the curtilage of a listed building; or (i) the site is, or contains, a scheduled monument.

The right will last for 3 years; therefore prior approval has to be obtained before 1st October 2020.

If the building complies with the above then a prior approval application must be made to the local authority, and a determination made whether prior approval is required with regard to;

  • transport and highways impacts of the development,
  • contamination risks in relation to the building,
  • flooding risks in relation to the building,
  • where the authority considers the building to which the development relates is within an area that is important for providing industrial services or storage or distribution services or a mix of those services (which includes, where the development relates to part of a building, services provided from any other part of the building), whether the introduction of, or an increase in, a residential use of premises in the area would have an adverse impact on the sustainability of the provision of those services,


The local authority have 56 days from the date of the application in which to respond with a decision, otherwise the development can proceed, although confirmation of it’s lawfulness may wish to be sought.

Importantly these rights also apply in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); unlike Class Q of the GPDO, which allows the use for agricultural buildings to residential.

One thing to note is that the permitted development right doesn’t cover the physical works needed to convert the building to a dwelling; this would have to be achieved under a subsequent application under the full planning process.

Often it may be the case that buildings, such as agricultural buildings, have been in a use that falls within B1c light industrial, albeit without having obtained the relevant planning consents. It may therefore be necessary to apply for a certificate of lawfulness initially to prove the building is in a use that may benefit from permitted development rights under Class PA.

The above matters are something Acorus are well placed to handle on your behalf.  Should you have a building you think applies, and wish to take forward, please do not hesitate to contact one of our offices and speak to one of our planning consultants.