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New MA permitted development rights

We have previously written about the government’s aim to build to stimulate the economy and the housing shortage facing the country.  One way government sought to address these issues was changing planning rules to allow more buildings to be converted to residential use without the need for planning permission.  The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 came into force on 21 April 2021, making the changes to what is commonly known as the GDPO.

The amendments to the GDPO follow the creation of a new use class, E, last year.  Class E is commercial, business and services.  The GDPO now allows units within use class E to be converted to residential units without a planning application, subject to various restrictions, through class MA permitted development rights.  The MA development rights are different to the temporary rights that retail and office premises have to covert to residential, including size safeguards for the resultant homes.  However, the creation of use class E (which includes uses that did not previously benefit from development rights) coupled with the new MA development rights means that many properties will qualify for rights to convert to residential use, potentially generating a great many residential units. 

The new MA rights require prior approval from the planning authority.  The prior approval matters are: transport impacts; contamination and flooding risks to the building; impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers; impact on the conservation area (where relevant); impact on residents in areas important for industry, waste management, and distribution; for conversion of nurseries and health centres, impact on local provision; and light levels in habitable rooms.  The MA rights also require the unit to have bn vacant for a continuous period of three months immediately prior to the prior approval application and in class E use for a continuous period of at least 2 years.  Floorspace that can benefit is limited to 1,500 sqm, although part of a larger building can benefit.  The element of the MA right which provides some protection for the ultimate occupier is the need to comply with nationally described space standards.  The MA rights apply in conservation areas but not in areas such as world heritage sites, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, nor do they apply to listed buildings.  Wherever located, the MA rights do not cover external alterations.  Such changes, unless permitted by other rights, will need to be covered by a planning application.

Posted on 6 May, 2021 by Ortolan

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