Changes to Permitted Development Rules

January 01, 2013

Earlier this year the government undertook a consultation on changes to Permitted Development (PD) rights. The document considered allowing changes of use for buildings that had been used for commercial uses to residential - without requiring planning permission. Until recently the proposal appeared to have been abandoned. However, towards the end of November 2012 a Ministerial statement confirmed Ministers were still considering these changes in an attempt to assist the economy.


The recent statement confirms the Government still intend to introduce changes to PD rules to enable changes of use from commercial to residential purposes. The details are not currently available and therefore it is not clear whether rural buildings will be included, or if this will be a temporary arrangement (as has been proposed in relation to some of the other changes being considered).


We anticipate the changes will be introduced early in 2013. Whilst there is no certainty the changes will apply to rural buildings, having consent for a commercial use could be beneficial. Consequently for buildings that are in non-agricultural use but without consent, it would be worth considering whether they would benefit from a Certificate of Lawful Use. If so, and assuming the changes are implemented, it would then be possible to take advantage of the change of use to residential.


Where rural buildings have authorisation for a change of use – either by Planning Consent or Certificate of Lawful Use – this can trigger liability for non-domestic rates.


In addition to the changes to PD rights the government have changed the system for collection of business rates.


In the past the Local Authority collected rates and transferred a proportion of those monies to Central Government. As a result there was little incentive on the Local Authority to police unauthorised uses and maximise the collection of money through rates. From April 2013 the Local Authority will be able to retain all monies locally. As a result it is envisaged there could be closer policing of the use of property so that the Local Authority can maximise collection of rates monies. Consequently buildings which have been occupied informally (without consent or paying rates) could be caught.



In a written statement issued today Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government revealed the government’s plans for changes to ‘permitted development rights’.

In relation to agricultural buildings it will be possible to convert buildings to a range of other uses, but not residential, under the proposed changes – with a view to promoting rural prosperity and growth. There will be a size restriction imposed to be able to benefit from the exemption and for conversions above a set size a prior approval process will be put in place to guard against unacceptable impacts, such as transport and noise.

The fine detail of the changes has yet to be published. Local Authorities can seek a local exemption before 2nd February on economic grounds, albeit the exemption will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. There-after the regulations for new permitted development rights will be brought forward. It is envisaged the changes will come into force in Spring 2013.

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