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Permitted Development Rights - is time running out?

Mon 29 January 2018

The Permitted Development Rights to convert agricultural buildings to residential use have been well publicised and many property owners have taken up the opportunity to unlock additional value. 

While there are no Government plans to remove the rights, recent news has inferred that they may not be in place forever.  The Local Government Association, which gives a shared voice to local councils, has recently stated that it believes such rights should be scrapped.  While this statement was mainly aimed at rights to convert offices to residential use, the criticisms they raised could also apply to other types of conversion.  Of course, this may not happen but our advice is that if you have buildings you might wish to convert, you should make use of the regulations while you can and not simply bank on them being in place forever.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Towards the end of last year a High Court Judge ruled that Permitted Development Right consents can provide a fall-back position.  The crux of the issue here is that with the principle of residential use already allowed, but not yet carried out, it should be perfectly acceptable to approve either a “replacement” dwelling or a revised scheme that does not fit within the exact boxes required by the regulations. 

This case has come as very welcome news to some as the regulations for agricultural to residential conversion are very constraining in certain areas and have resulted in a number of cases in hamstrung designs or permissions that are very hard to develop at cost-effective rates.  

With the precedent set by the High Court case there is a much stronger argument. Where a Permitted Development application has been approved, a council should allow any application for a replacement dwelling, provided the new design complies with relevant policies. 

We are even seeing instances now where some councils will not require the Permitted Development Right conversion application to be made, but instead will simply ask for evidence that the building could comply before granting permission for a “replacement” dwelling. 

We would advise anyone who has either has permission for a design they are not satisfied with or has not yet sought approval for conversion to speak to us about seeking permission for a “replacement” dwelling. 

Alister King-Smith, Stags Planning department

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