Permitted development rights
There are changes afoot to ‘permitted development rights’ or, in normal language, what some property owners can do with their buildings without applying for planning permission.
Most of the changes apply to high streets and rural buildings so I thought the parish magazine was a sensible place to explain what’s going on.
The changes come in three areas: changing a building to use it for education; making it easier to change what a building in a high street can be used for and allowing redundant farm buildings to be put back into use, in some cases as homes.
I’ll start with the two proposals around schools.
First, farmers are to be allowed to convert a building into a new state funded school or nursery providing childcare.
Buildings like offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions, and places providing leisure and assembly spaces (like a parish hall for example) can also do the same. I think this is relatively uncontroversial.
The changes will be controlled by councils on the basis of transport, noise and other issues so it’s unlikely there will be much impact on anyone living nearby.
A little more controversial is changes of use in our town centres. Conversion of retail premises to banks and building societies, doesn’t worry me greatly – it’s much better to have a shop that’s used rather than empty.
The second, making it easier for shops to be converted to homes, is a little more controversial.
Happily the proposals again have controls on them. There will be a need to seek ‘prior approval’ from the council in respect of design and the potential impact on the economic health of the town centre – allowing authorities to say no if they think there will be a real problem.
Finally, there’s the proposal to allow redundant agricultural buildings to be converted into housing.
Now some people may worry that this will lead to all sorts of unwelcome development popping up all over the place and I agree that this is something to avoid.
Again, the Government has imposed all sorts of conditions, the crucial bit being ‘over-development’ – only three small units can be built and there are all sorts of rules in place to deal with people who might try and cheat the system.
I do have though some worries about what we mean by a ‘farm building’ and what we mean by ‘redundant’ and I will be taking these up with the planning minister shortly.