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Member Briefing: Change of use of buildings to residential use

Date: 16/03/16

Change of use of buildings to residential use

On 11th March 2016 DCLG Minister, Brandon Lewis laid before Parliament the long awaited Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 (Ref: SI 2016 No. 332).

The full regulations as laid can be found here:


Article 7 of the Order makes permanent the existing temporary right to change a building used as an office into residential use (Class O of Part 3 of Schedule 2A of the T&CP(General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015). This change was announced by Brandon Lewis back in October 2015 but will now come into force on 6th April 2016.

Before beginning development, the developer must make an application to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether prior approval of the authority will be required on the limited grounds of:

  • Transport and highways impact of the development;
  • Contamination risks in relation to the building;
  • Flooding risk in relation to the building; and
  • Impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development.

The last bullet point is an additional consideration over the previous temporary right.

The Order also places a condition on all development under this Class that the development (ie: the change of use) must be completed within a period of 3 years starting with the prior approval date. This condition does apply retrospectively to those development that already have prior approval.

Members should note that, although it was suggested by the Secretary of State in his announcement of this change in October last year, there is no provision within the new permitted development right to allow for the demolition and replacement of the existing buildings to which the change of use is to occur. Therefore, any external amendments to the building will require a separate planning permission.

The areas previously exempted from the right have until 30th May 2019 to consider whether or not to continue that exemption using Article 4 directions. Where they do not introduce such a direction the exemption will no longer apply. 


Article 8 of the Order creates a temporary right (Class PA of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO) to change a building in light industrial use to residential use subject to an application for prior approval on the same four grounds as above. Applications will be allowed to be made on or after 1 October 2017 (to allow LPAs time to consider making Article 4 directions on areas they wish to retain for light industrial use and remove the permitted development right) and the right will run up to 30th September 2020 and a similar 3 year period for implementation will be applied to such application from the date of prior approval.

As part of the application under either of these permitted development rights the application must also include a statement specifying the number of new dwelling houses proposed by the development. 


All provisions apply to England only and not to Wales or Scotland.