Permitted Development Rights changes: Government confirms all new homes delivered through permitted development rights to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard
As many of those in the property sector will be aware, Permitted Development Rights for the conversion of offices (and other uses) to dwellings has been a controversial issue since the rights first came in to force a number of years ago.
Subsequent amendments to the Regulations (of which there have been plenty) sought to address some of the issues identified in the practical application of the permitted development rights – for example, the recent amendment to ensure new homes have sufficient natural light. However, the thorny issue of internal space standards remained unresolved until now.
On 30th September 2020, the Government announced that all new homes to be delivered through permitted development rights would be required to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard, and that Regulations would be drawn up to that effect.
The new regulations (in the form of a further amendments to Permitted Development regulations) have been made, and come into force on 3rd December 2020. Transitional provisions mean the specific amendment to space standards comes into effect from 6th April 2021.
From 6th April 2021, any application for new homes to be delivered via permitted development rights must have a gross internal floor area of not less than 37 square metres, unless it is an exempt unit.
The transitional arrangements mean the space standard requirements shall not apply if an application for prior approval is submitted before 6th April 2021 and is:
(a) Granted before or after 6 April 2021; or
(b) Subsequently determined (or deemed to be determined) either before or after 6 April 2021 that prior approval is not required;
Therefore, there is theoretically a short window for the submission of Prior Approval applications to be considered under the current regulations and thus not be required to demonstrate compliance with the space standards. The same window applies for those seeking to utilise the new permitted development rights which allow the demolition of certain buildings and their replacement with new dwellings.
However, we expect that local authorities will be keen to ensure all new applications submitted under the current Regulations are compliant with space standards. Whilst it may be difficult for a local authority to refuse applications submitted before 6th April 2021 based on space standards alone, promoters should be aware of the potential delays which may ensue from ‘non-compliant’ space standard proposals.
It should also be noted that any notable external works to a building to enable implementation of the change of use may still require separate planning permission.
In our opinion, the delivery of good quality homes in the right places is critical to meeting the Government’s housing delivery targets, and existing poor quality office stock in the right locations can be well utilised for new housing. These changes go some way to ensuring that new homes meet the standards required, and the transitional arrangements allow time for the industry to prepare.
To find out more about this announcement, or should you have projects where the permitted development rights changes may have an effect, then please do not hesitate to contact Nick Pleasant, Associate Director in Leeds, or anyone else in the NJL Consulting team, who will be able to assist.