Have your say on extending permitted development

Restaurants, cafes, sports and leisure venues in England could be converted to residential use under an extension to permitted development rights being proposed by the government.

Builders and developers are being invited to have their say on a consultation to extend rights that already exist for retail and office premises. Pubs, theatres and live music venues will continue to require full change of use planning permission.

The permitted development rights extension follows the reclassification of many commercial premises into a single use class group, and it’s this group of building uses that will acquire permission to be converted to residential.

The consultation also seeks views on planning fast-track measures for major public infrastructure developments and more flexible rules for extending existing public sector buildings.

Commercial premises proposed for permitted development rights in England

On 1 September 2020 a new use class consolidated a range of commercial buildings into one group. If the proposal is approved and legislation passed, all the uses listed under Class E Commercial, Business and Service will be able to be converted to residential use.

The Class E building uses are shown in the table below:

Class E: Commercial, Business and Service

Use, or part use, for all or any of the following purposes:

(a)    for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public

(b)    for the sale of food and drink principally to visiting members of the public where consumption of that food and drink is mostly undertaken on the premises

(c)     for the provision of the following kinds of services principally to visiting members of the public:

(i)       financial services


(ii)      professional services (other than health or medical services)


(iii)     any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality

(d)    for indoor sport, recreation or fitness, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, principally to visiting members of the public

(e)    for the provision of medical or health services, principally to visiting members of the public, except premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner

(f)     for a creche, day nursery or day centre, not including a residential use, principally to visiting members of the public

(g)    for the following:

(i)     an office to carry out any operational or administrative functions

(ii)     the research and development of products or processes, or

(iii)     any industrial process

As with all permitted development rights, other regulations such as Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations will continue to apply. The rights would also apply anywhere in England, not just in high street or town centre locations.

Considerations for applying the new rights

The consultation asks whether there should be a limit on the size of building that can be converted under permitted development rights, and also if the rights should not apply in specifically protected areas, such as National Parks and World Heritage Sites.

Views are also being sought on local considerations, such as flooding risk, access to transport, residents’ living conditions and suitable locations.

There is also a proposal to continue to apply the existing prior approval fee of £96 per dwelling up to a maximum of 50 dwellings.

Fast-tracking public infrastructure projects

The consultation also seeks views on extending permitted development for extensions to public sector buildings such as schools and hospitals, including increasing permitted height from 5 to 6 metres. The government also wants to speed up planning applications for new public service buildings by creating a sub-set of an existing major developments category and attaching priority to these developments.

The consultation is open until 28 January 2021 and can be found on the government’s website here.


Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.

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