Planning Revamp – Development rights to be made permanent?

On 13 October 2015, the government introduced the Housing and Planning Bill to Parliament. The Bill proposes measures to make permanent the temporary permitted development rights. These rights, first introduced in 2013, gave developers the ability to convert offices into residential properties without having to gain planning permission. However, these rights were set to expire on 30 May 2016 – potentially triggering a bureaucratic nightmare preventing the delivery of thousands of residential properties.

Announcing the new measures, the government explained that:

  1. Those with the necessary approval will have 3 years to complete the change of use to residential (although the commencement date of the 3 year limit is unclear);
  2. Developers will be allowed to demolish office buildings in favour of residential properties; and
  3. Rights will be extended to cover the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to residential properties.

NOTE: the extended rights will require prior approval (details of the approval process will be available in due course).

A further development will also see those areas, currently exempt from the change of use rights, given until May 2019 to make an Article 4 direction as to whether they want to remain exempt.


Whilst this announcement will be of undoubted benefit to developers and will go some way to meeting the government’s ambitious new homes target, it will also further deplete the availability of office premises and drive up rental levels.

The Bill will now make its way through Parliament and we will provide another update if and when it passes into law.

PLEASE NOTE: this briefing note contains information about current legal issues and is only intended as a general statement of the law – it does not give legal advice. No action should be taken in reliance on this note without specific legal advice.

For further information please contact:

nick green Nick Green
Partner, Property