Friday, 7 September 2012

Using Floorspace over Shops – Your Permitted Development Rights



Photo Courtesy of Baker Pearce Ltd
The current rush of blood to the head of the Government offering all kinds of changes to permitted development rights and relaxation of planning has had my phone ringing off the hook with people seeking clarification as to what they can and can't do. 

Of course, we will have to await the amending Regulations, but one particular question seemed to recur sufficiently often to encourage me to blog about it here.


The issue at hand revolves around the opportunity to swap and change the use of floorspace over a shop.

The Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 sets out a number of specific Use Classes for planning purposes. You do not need planning permission to change the use of a building within the various confines of each use class, subject to any limiting criteria that might apply. So, for example, you can change a shop (A1) used for retail sale purposes to a funeral directors without requiring planning permission as both types of use fall within the same use class. A handy free schedule or wall chart are downloadable [here].

Equally, by virtue of the Order, you can change between certain use classes without the need for planning permission. You can, for example, change from a Restaurant or Café use (A3) to a Shop use (A1) but NOT the other way around.

Class A1 Shops and Class A2 Financial & Professional Services are both use classes that relate to buildings likely to be found in high street locations, have a ground floor window display and where services are provided principally the visiting members of the public. In either case there is a provision to allow a mixed use with a single flat over the shop without the need for planning permission. In other words if you have a shop with rooms over it that are used as part of the shop (say for storage purposes) then it is possible to convert that to a flat leaving the shop below. Equally, if you already have a flat over a shop it can be converted back to shop use in its entirety without needing planning permission. The same applies for any building used for the delivery of financial and professional services (Class A2)- for example an estate agents, travel agents etc.

However, the Use Classes Order does not explain how this opportunity occurs. The relevant planning controls are in fact exercised through the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).

Part 3 Class F and G of the GPDO allow as follows:

CLASS F.    Permitted development

Development consisting of a change of the use of a building—

(a)          to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order and as a single flat, from a use for any purpose within Class A1 of that Schedule;
(b)        to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order and as a single flat, from a use for any purpose within Class A2 of that Schedule;
(c)       where that building has a display window at ground floor level, to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order and as a single flat, from a use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of that Schedule.

There are limiting conditions that state:

F.1    Conditions

Development permitted by Class F is subject to the following conditions—

(a)      some or all of the parts of the building used for any purposes within Class A1 or Class A2, as the case may be, of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order shall be situated on a floor below the part of the building used as a single flat;
(b)     where the development consists of a change of use of any building with a display window at ground floor level, the ground floor shall not be used in whole or in part as the single flat;
(c)      the single flat shall not be used otherwise than as a dwelling (whether or not as a sole or main residence)—
(i) by a single person or by people living together as a family, or
(ii) by not more than six residents living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents).

F.2    Interpretation of Class F

For the purposes of Class F—

“care” means personal care for people in need of such care by reason of old age, disablement, past or present dependence on alcohol or drugs or past or present mental disorder.

Note specifically the use of the term ‘single flat’. The space cannot be converted into multiple units of accommodation. The ground floor must remain in shop use and cannot form part of the flat. And for A2 uses where there is a display window at ground floor level you can also alter the use to A1 and a flat. But this condition just seems to belt and brace the existing provisions anyway.

Class G provides for the conversion back from a mixed flat and shop to a full shop use.

Class G.    Permitted development

Development consisting of a change of the use of a building—

(a)       to a use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule  to the Use Classes Order from a mixed use for any purpose within Class A1 of that Schedule and as a single flat;
(b)    to a use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order from a mixed use for any purpose within Class A2 of that Schedule and as a single flat;
(c)     where that building has a display window at ground floor level, to a use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order from a mixed use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of that Schedule and as a single flat.

G.1    Development not permitted

Development is not permitted by Class G unless the part of the building used as a single flat was immediately prior to being so used used for any purpose within Class A1 or Class A2 of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order.

So the limitation in Class G is that the single flat had to have been used as part of the shop use immediately before the use as a flat, in order to allow for a reversion to shop use. If it has never been used as part of the shop use then the permitted development rights may not apply.

Other limitations

You should always check to ensure that any planning permission over the building has not withdrawn any (or all) permitted development rights by way of planning condition. Equally, check whether there are any Article 4 Directions imposed on the area that might limit permitted development rights accordingly. This is not uncommon in Conservation Areas. If you are a tenant, there may also be limitations imposed by your landlord.

However, assuming that there are no planning or other restrictions, such a change of use can be made without the need for planning permission accordingly.

Don't forget that this allows a change of use rather than physical development so if it is necessary to alter the building substantially or you need to put new windows and doors into the structure then planning permission and Building Regulation approval may be required. Internal works do not usually involve the need planning permission - unless they are structural in nature – but you may nevertheless need to consider Building Regulations (particularly with regard to escape in the event of a fire).

Finally, if you want absolute certainty you can apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (the so called CLOPUD) to secure the local authority’s written confirmation that you may proceed without the need for planning permission.

Update:
There's always something else isn't there. Well, Eric Pickles has now confirmed the following:


The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have said that new permitted development rights are to come into force on 1 October 2012.

Current legislation only allows for one flat to be created above a shop without the need for a planning application, provided the space is not in a separate planning unit from the shop and that there is no change to the outside of the building.

The DCLG states that under the new permitted development rights two flats will be allowed to be created in office or storage space.

Eric Pickles said: "These are common sense planning reforms that will deliver more affordable homes in areas where there are good transport links while ensuring better use of existing developed land.

"Cutting this red tape should be a shot in the arm for the high street, increasing footfall and providing a boost to regeneration."

Any other planning questions you might have can be put through the e-service at www.ruralurbanplanning.co.uk

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  2. Hi,
    Would it be permissible to convert spare rooms at the rear of a ground floor freehold lockup shop for a managers studio apartment? This would not impact on the use of the shop and there is allocated parking to the rear of the property.

    With regards

    Tim

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