Government releases additional consultation for further planning reforms

26 July 2023

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have published a consultation to “boost housebuilding and other growth”.  Released on 24th July 2023, and entitled “additional flexibilities to support housing delivery, the agricultural sector, businesses, high streets and open prisons”, this most recent consultation sets out a host of changes to existing permitted development (PD) rights as well as proposing new ones. 

MEP will be responding to the consultation very shortly.

The following provides a summary of these latest proposed changes.

  • Conversion of agricultural and other rural buildings to residential.

Proposed changes include revising the existing Class Q right which allows agricultural buildings to convert to housing.   Currently the Class Q right is restricted in terms of the size and number of units, landscape exclusions and former uses.

With regard to size, it is proposed to remove the existing limitations on smaller and larger homes, and instead introduce a single maximum floorspace limit of either 100 or 150 sqm per home. Furthermore, it is proposed to introduce an overall maximum of 1,000 sqm floorspace changing use that would include any previously developed under Class Q.  

Regarding number, it is proposed to increase the maximum number of homes that can be delivered on an agricultural unit from 5 to 10. 

These changes would therefore allow for up to 10 homes of varying sizes up to 100 or 150 sqm to be delivered.

Importantly, the consultation is allowing for rear extensions to the original building during the change of use. It is proposed that extensions would need to be sited to the rear of the original agricultural building with a maximum depth of 4 metres. 

In relation to landscape constraints, the consultation is seeking views on amending the right to apply on article 2(3) land.   Rear extensions would not however be permitted under the right on article 2(3) land.

With regard to its former use, it is proposed that the PD right is extended to apply to buildings on agricultural units that may not have been solely used for agricultural purposes.

Furthermore, it is proposed that the PD right should be extended to apply to former agricultural buildings no longer on an established agricultural unit.

Regarding other rural buildings, such as equestrian and forestry, views are being sought on applying the additional flexibilities for other rural uses to change use to residential.

  • Agricultural buildings to a flexible commercial use.

The existing right allows for the change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from its agricultural use to a flexible commercial use. It is proposed to expand the type of buildings that can benefit from the right, or a similar new right, creating more opportunities for rural diversification and supporting the rural economy. For example, it may be appropriate for a building in forestry, equestrian or another predominantly rural use to diversify into a flexible commercial use.

  • Agricultural development.

It is proposed that the size limits of new agricultural buildings and extensions are increased.

  • Commercial Business and Service uses to dwellinghouses.

The class MA PD right (which came into effect August 2021), allows the conversion of commercial, business and service uses to residential without the need for a full planning application. 

Consideration is being given to expanding the scope of this PD right to remove the requirement that it should only apply to vacant premises and the ban on its use on Article 2 (3) land and increase the size limits.

  • Residential extensions

It is proposed that there will be an extension of PD rights making it easier for homeowners to build upward and outwards with new extensions and loft conversions, whilst ensuring neighbours interests are protected.

  • Public buildings.

It is proposed that PD rights allowing for the erection, extension or alteration of schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and closed prisons are to be extended.

  • Temporary Uses

PD rights should be extended to allow the temporary use of land for markets to operate for more day.

  • Hotels, boarding houses and guest accommodation.

The Government is proposing to allow the change of use of such accommodation to dwellinghouses through permitted development rights. This could be delivered through an expansion to the existing Use Class or through the creation of a new right.   At this stage it is acknowledged that it may be necessary to allow for additional consideration by the LPA through a prior approval process.  Control would also be required regarding floor space.

  • Design Codes

Consultation is sought on the application of local design codes to certain permitted development rights to support the delivery of well-designed development.

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