How Can Landowners Benefit From New Permitted Development Rights?


Regulations amending the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (the GPDO) which came into force on 1 August 2020 allow developers in England to use permanent rights to add storeys to certain types of buildings and extend existing homes.

The amended regulations introduce a new Class A, which grants the right to extend purpose built blocks of flats upwards by two additional storeys. The blocks of flats must consist of three storeys or more before the extension and cannot have a total height of 30 metres or more with the additional two storeys.

Further permitted development rights allow for:

  • the construction of one or two additional storeys, consisting of new flats, built on top of the highest existing storey of certain buildings.
  • new flats on detached buildings and terraced buildings which are in commercial or mixed use as shops, for financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, offices, betting offices, pay day loan shops, or launderettes or in a mixed use combining one of those commercial uses with use as a dwellinghouse. New
  • new flats on terraces or detached buildings which are in use as single dwellinghouses provided the house has already been enlarged by the addition of one or more storeys above the original structure.

The new rights require prior approval from the local planning authority so an application must be made, and the authority will consider inter alia (i) highway impacts (ii) neighbour and occupier amenity such as overlook, privacy, natural light (iii) external appearance (iv) the provision of adequate natural light in habitable rooms. The authority is required to consult if specific impacts are identified.

The authority is required to make a decision on an application within eight weeks, failing which, there is a right of appeal.

Each new permitted development right can be subject to specific conditions but some common conditions apply to all classes:

  • the new dwellinghouses that are constructed must be flats.
  • the new rights only apply to buildings constructed between 1 July 1948 and 5 March 2018.
  • the rights will not apply to buildings in conservation areas or listed buildings.
  • Necessary engineering works within the existing curtilage of the building to strengthen existing walls and foundations and to install services are permitted, along with replacement or installation of additional plant, construction of safe access and egress and construction of ancillary facilities if needed.
  • Before development begins the developer must provide the local authority with a report for the management of the construction which sets out proposed construction hours and how adverse impacts of noise, dust, vibration and traffic on occupiers and adjoining owners will be mitigated.
  • the development must be completed within a period of three years starting with the date ‘prior approval’ is granted.
  • every dwellinghouse in the building must remain in use as a dwellinghouse and for no other purpose, although uses which are ancillary to the primary use as a dwellinghouse will be permitted.

The amendment also allows, subject to conditions ‘Development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse’, enabling homeowners to extend existing homes by up to two additional storeys on a two or more storey home and one additional storey on a one storey home.

A new class also allows for demolition of vacant and redundant, free-standing buildings in existence on 12 March 2020 which comprise (a) a single purpose-built detached block of flats (b) a single detached building established for office, research and development, industrial use or a combination of these, in each case falling within Class B1 of the Use Classes Order.

The demolished building can then be replaced by a single, purpose-built block of flats or a single detached dwelling house up to seven metres higher than the old building to provide up to a maximum of two additional storeys, within a final maximum height of 18m.

The old building can’t be demolished separately, without the construction of a new building.

Both the demolition and the new build must be completed within three years of the date of the grant of prior approval.

There are detailed conditions which must be met including, the land covered by, or in the curtilage of, the old building must not be occupied under an agricultural tenancy, unless express consent is obtained from the landlord and tenant, the land must not be in a conservation area or in the curtilage of a listed building, the building to be demolished must have been built before 31 December 1989, the footprint of the old building must not exceed 1,000 square metres, the new building must be within the footprint of the old building (although some re-positioning may be acceptable), the old building must have been vacant for a period of at least six months immediately before the date of the application for prior approval and the right must not apply to part of a building or allow for the demolition of more than one building within the curtilage and in the incorporation of any additional footprint.

All applications are subject to the prior approval of the local planning authority who will look at, inter alia, similar factors to those set out above. In addition, an applicant must provide specific drawings showing dimensions of the old and new buildings and a heritage and archaeology statement.

Notification of the proposed development must be given to adjoining owners, and some consultation of statutory bodies will have to take place if needed. The same time scales to reply and appeal are as set out above.

Changes have also made to the classification scheme for different uses of property which are justified on the grounds of repurposing of buildings on high streets and town centres.

Applications for planning permission, permission in principle or approval of reserved matters under an outline application which were submitted before 1 September 2020 and which refer to the existing use classes must be determined by the authority using existing use classes rather than the new ones.

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The content of this update is for the purpose of providing general legal information. It does not constitute legal advice from a solicitor and should not be treated as such.