On 15th April new Permitted Development rights came into force providing a green flag to convert storage and distribution buildings (B8), used for that purpose for at least four years prior to 17 March 2014, into residential dwellings (C3).
The announcement comes after protracted government consultation and forms part of the wider General Permitted Development Order (GPDO), overriding the necessity to submit planning applications for change of use as long as the property does not exceed a maximum of 500 square meters floor space.
However, as expected, there are caveats.
Owners and developers must first consult with their local regulatory authority to establish whether certain permissions and prior approvals are required. The Explanatory Memorandum to The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 states "The right is subject to prior approval process covering transport and highways, air quality impacts on intended occupiers, noise impacts of the development, risks of contamination, flooding, and the impact the change of use would have on existing industrial uses and or storage or distribution uses"
In addition, there are exclusions for buildings in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads and World Heritage Sites, Listed Buildings or land within the curtilage of Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, or in Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Safety Hazard Areas and Military Explosives Storage Areas.
Change of use, which must be implemented by 15th April 2018, does not imply or permit any external alterations to be made either to the size or style or in any other way, to the building, unless a full planning application is submitted for these.
Charlotte Bland, Associate Director, Commercial Management and Investment at Caxtons said "This is a welcome extension to GPDO and provides freeholders with new flexibility and more opportunities. Well-located storage and distribution buildings are in high demand and short supply in parts of the south east, but the argument for more residential accommodation is very persuasive.
I would recommend that anyone considering change of use seeks professional advice at the earliest opportunity."