The end of town centres as we know them? Government’s latest proposed extension of Permitted Development rights

It has only been three months since the introduction of new use classes, which means most town centre uses can now flexibly change to other similar uses without the need for planning permission (the new ‘class E’). Government is now consulting on whether town centre uses should be allowed to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission.

Permitted Development rights already exist for the conversion of offices, small shops and financial and professional services premises to new homes (albeit in most circumstances, with caveats). The Government’s proposal would extend and amend these rights to cover other uses within the new Class E, including larger shops and banks as well as restaurants, gyms and creches. One of the most controversial questions the consultation asks is whether the right should apply within conservation areas, because of the potential impacts on character.

If the proposals come forwards, there will be huge opportunities to convert town centre uses to housing via the Prior Approval process, Lanpro can help you with this.

Whilst the proposals provide opportunities for the market, some argue this unplanned development may be at the cost of good planning and design principles in our plan-led system. Clearly, the proposals would limit the ability of local authorities to plan and manage the extent and character of their village, towns and city centers.

Government argues that the proposals are part of a recovery package for failing town centres that were struggling before the pandemic, with problems now magnified.  Given that we are changing the way we shop, clearly there is a need to support the economic recovery of town centres. I feel there is, however, a risk that allowing unplanned development at this scale will lead to poor placemaking. There would be long lasting implications of the changes, which must be balanced against the temporary economic situation. Resulting harm may not easily be undone.

What do you think? Are the proposals a risk worth taking? Are they a step too far?

The proposal is one of many further potential changes to the system the Government are currently consulting on. Have your say at: Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) by 28 January 2021.

 

 

It has only been three months since the introduction of new use classes, which means most town centre uses can now flexibly change to other similar uses without the need for planning permission (the new ‘class E’). Government is now consulting on whether town centre uses should be allowed to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission.

Permitted Development rights already exist for the conversion of offices, small shops and financial and professional services premises to new homes (albeit in most circumstances, with caveats). The Government’s proposal would extend and amend these rights to cover other uses within the new Class E, including larger shops and banks as well as restaurants, gyms and creches. One of the most controversial questions the consultation asks is whether the right should apply within conservation areas, because of the potential impacts on character.

If the proposals come forwards, there will be huge opportunities to convert town centre uses to housing via the Prior Approval process, Lanpro can help you with this.

Whilst the proposals provide opportunities for the market, some argue this unplanned development may be at the cost of good planning and design principles in our plan-led system. Clearly, the proposals would limit the ability of local authorities to plan and manage the extent and character of their village, towns and city centers.

Government argues that the proposals are part of a recovery package for failing town centres that were struggling before the pandemic, with problems now magnified.  Given that we are changing the way we shop, clearly there is a need to support the economic recovery of town centres. I feel there is, however, a risk that allowing unplanned development at this scale will lead to poor placemaking. There would be long lasting implications of the changes, which must be balanced against the temporary economic situation. Resulting harm may not easily be undone.

What do you think? Are the proposals a risk worth taking? Are they a step too far?

The proposal is one of many further potential changes to the system the Government are currently consulting on. Have your say at: Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) by 28 January 2021.

 

 

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