Amendments to permitted development on Changes of Use – Prior Approval

Potential changes of use

Non-residential buildings are designated to be used for a certain purpose, such as a shop, office, industrial unit or warehouse. These certain uses of a non-residential building are defined within the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (As amended). The Government introduced changes to the permitted development regime on the 30 May 2013 (updated in April 2015) which allowed some of those buildings to have their original use changed by permitted development, from one use class to another (e.g. from office (Use Class B1a) to residential (Use Class C3)). You will still need to submit an application to us for prior approval in order to utilise these permitted development rights. However, you cannot undertake any change of use to your premises until you have received written approval from us.

Permitted development rights can be applied to a change of use from:

  • A building from offices (B1(a)) to residential (C3);
  • An agricultural building up to 500 sq.m to a flexible use falling within either shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), restaurants and cafés (A3), Business (B1), storage or distribution (B8), hotels (C1) and assembly and leisure (D2);
  • Of a building from business (B1), hotels (C1), residential institutions (C2), secure residential institutions (C2A) and assembly and leisure to use as a state funded school.

The above only provides examples of what can be undertaken through the current permitted development regime. For more information on what certain changes of use can be undertaken through permitted development, it is recommended you visit the National Planning Portal. Please note that the guidance provided on this page must be read in conjunction with the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

The permitted development process for the changes of use will require neighbours and stakeholders to be consulted to allow them to make representations about the development. The main issues which can be considered includes flooding, contamination, highways, transport, noise and drainage. However, the requirements which need to considered differ as they depend on what change of use is being proposed. Therefore, it is recommended you carefully read the above General Permitted Development Order. It is also dependent on whether the property in question still has its permitted development rights intact. For further information and guidance, the National Planning Portal has some useful information on what the requirements are.

Following the submission of a Prior Approval application to us, we are required to make a decision within 56 days of receiving your application. The following decisions can be made by us:

  • Prior approval is not required;
  • Prior approval is required and given; or
  • Prior approval is required and refused.

To submit an application for prior approval for a change of use, you will need to complete one of the following application forms below:

Notification of a proposed change of use to residential dwelling(s)

These forms can be downloaded to notify us of the intention to change the use to residential dwellings (Class C3):

Prior approval of proposed change of use to state funded school or nursery

Development is not permitted if this process has been used for the building previously, or if the use of the building is classed as ‘sui-generis’, or if the building is a listed building or a Scheduled Ancient Monument or is of or forms part of a safety hazard or military explosives storage area.

Prior approval of a proposed change of use of agricultural building to a flexible use within shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafés, business, storage or distribution, hotels or assembly or leisure.

Development is not permitted where the building exceeds 500 square metres or is a listed building or Scheduled Ancient Monument or is or forms part of a hazard area or military explosives storage area.

We recommend you include all the necessary information detailed in the Notes and Guidance in order to speed up the process.

Prior approval for the temporary use of buildings or land for the purpose of Commercial Film-Making and the Associated Structures, Works, Plant or Machinery.

Development is not permitted in on land which is more than 1.5 hectares or for overnight accommodation or in conservation areas, National Parks, AONBs, listed building, Scheduled Monuments, SSSI or is or forms part of a hazard or military explosives storage area.

Prior approval for a Change of Use from Shops and Financial and Professional Services, betting offices, pay day loan shops to assembly and leisure uses.

Development is not permitted where the 200 square metre threshold is exceeded, or in conservation areas, National Parks, AONBs, listed building, Scheduled Monuments, SSSI or is or forms part of a hazard or military explosives storage area.

Other permitted development changes

  • A temporary increase in permitted development rights has been made available to extend A1, A2 and A3 class buildings from 25% gross floor space or 50 sq.m to 50% or 100 sq.m (whichever is the lesser). This right expires on 30 May 2019;
  • A temporary increase in permitted development rights has been made available to extend B1, B2 and B8 class buildings so that the floor space limit for any new building is increased from 100 sq.m to 200 sq.m and the overall floor space limit for new building is increased for a new building or extension from 25% to 50% with a maximum of 1,000 sq.m. The works must be completed by 30 May 2019.
  • In conservation areas, the construction, installation or replacement of a telegraph pole, cabinet or line, in association with fixed line broadband, will no longer require an application to us for Prior Approval for the siting and the appearance of the woks. These permitted development rights expire on 30 May 2019.
  • Changes to permitted development rights for schools to allow the erection of a higher boundary fence, or wall, adjacent to a highway of up to 2 metres, provided it does not create an obstruction which is likely to be a danger to highway users. This is a permanent change.

You can still apply to us for a certificate of lawful development for existing and proposed development that does not require prior approval.

IMPORTANT NOTE: when proposing any change under the new legislation, you are advised to consult the National Planning Portal for guidance. Please note that the guidance provided on the Planning Portal must also be read in conjunction with the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

Separate to the above, the Environment Agency (EA) advise that where a change of use pertains to a Flood Zone (Flood Zone 2 or 3) or relates to contaminated land, you will need to provide the appropriate assessments at the point the prior approval application is submitted on the same basis as a full planning application. Therefore, please read the General Permitted Development

The advice which is set out on this page is an interpretation of the legislation only and should be read in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.