New permitted development right option on the way

The new Class MA rights could open up new opportunities for some farmers
The new Class MA rights could open up new opportunities for some farmers

A new permitted development right will be introduced this summer with implications for farmers and landowners considering development projects.

The government has agreed a new Class MA right to allow for the change of use from commercial, business use and service use (Class E) to residential use (Class C3) without requiring a full planning application.

It follows a shakeup of use classes in September 2020, when a new Class E definition was introduced to cover a wide range of business uses.

Class E replaced the previous use classes of A1, A2 and A3 (retail, financial services and cafés/restaurants); B1a, b and c (offices, research establishments and light industry) and D1 and D2 (health clinics, nurseries and gyms).

The idea behind having a new wider Class E designation was to allow buildings, particularly in high streets, to be used more flexibly, without needing to seek planning permission

Strutt & Parker says the new announcement adds to changes to permitted development rights that have been introduced in recent times, with a view to easing the planning burden for property owners.

“The new Class MA rights will take effect from 1 August 2021, with existing arrangements for the change of use from offices and retail to residential applying until then," said Alice Robinson, senior associate director.

The new Class MA rights could open up new opportunities for some farmers, but she warned that anyone considering change of use from offices to dwellings might look to act before the end of July.

“Currently Class O allows change of use to residential without any limitations of the floor area that can change use," Ms Robinson explained.

However, once the new Class MA permitted development comes into effect in August 2021, there will be a limit of 1,500 square metres.

In addition, the buildings will have needed to have been vacant for three continuous months prior to the application for prior approval under the new Class MA, which is not currently a requirement under the existing permitted development rules (Class O).

“Owners of buildings subject to office use Class B1(a) have until 31 July 2021 should they wish to submit a permitted development prior approval application under Class O for the conversion of offices to dwellings,” said Ms Robinson.

The Class MA right will be subject to approval by the planning authority on matters such as transport impacts of the development and impact on the character and sustainability of a conservation area, among others.

Unlike other permitted development for residential use, these new rights apply to buildings in conservation areas.

Development must be completed within a period of three years starting with the prior approval date.