Planning regulation changes in 2020

02 Dec 2020

Over the course of 2020 there have been six separate amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (GDPO) which have broadly sought to expand the range of permitted developments, and to provide for the provision of temporary buildings and use of land to assist with preventing, controlling or reducing a pandemic in light of Covid-19.
 
24 March 2020 Amendment

Made in direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this amendment introduced a new Class DA which temporarily allows pubs, restaurants and cafes to provide takeaway food.
 
It originally ran until the 23 March 2021, but this has now been extended until 23 March 2022 (see below).
 
9 April 2020 Amendment

Also in direct response to the pandemic, this amendment introduced a new Class A within a new Part 12A which allows development by Local Authorities and Health Service bodies to construct temporary structures for emergency buildings.
It originally ran until 31 December 2020 but has now been extended until 31 December 2021.
 
1 August 2020 Amendment

This amendment introduced the widely discussed permitted development rights for the  construction of new dwellings on detached blocks of flats (Part 20 Class A). In order for these rights to apply, the block of flats must consist of three storeys or more before the extension upwards and cannot have a total height of 30 metres or more once the extension has been completed.
 
The above rights are subject to detailed conditions and limitations, and do not apply to Listed Buildings or Article 2(3) land which includes Conservation Areas.
 
For a development to comprise permitted development under the above class it must first be subject to a prior approval application made to the Local Planning Authority against which they can consider: transport and highways, air traffic and defence assets, contamination, flood risk, external appearance, natural light in all habitable rooms, impact upon amenity space of the existing building and neighbouring ones, overlooking/privacy/loss of light, and impacts on identified protected vistas.
 
31 August 2020 Amendment 1

This extends the permitted development right for upwards extensions introduced by the 1 August 2020 Amendment (above) to various other buildings, as follows:
  • Class AA permits the construction of up to two storeys of new flats in the airspace above the topmost storey on a detached commercial or mixed use building.
  • Class AB permits the construction of new flats in the airspace above terrace buildings in commercial or mixed use .
  • Class AC permits the construction of new flats in the airspace above terrace dwelling houses.
  • Class AD permits the construction of new flats in the airspace above detached dwelling houses.
Classes AB, AC and AD all allow two storeys to be added if the existing building is two storeys or more, or one storey if the existing building consists of one storey.
 
It also introduced a new Class AA to Part 1 of the GDPO, enabling homeowners to extend existing homes upwards on the same basis: by up to two additional storeys on a two or more storey home, or one additional storey on a one storey home.
 
To date there is no evidence of a significant take up of proposed development through the use of such permitted development rights, possibly due to the stringent limitations and conditions attached to them.
 
31 August 2020 Amendment 2

A second amendment that came into force the same day introduced a further new Class ZA (to Part 20) which allows the demolition of a single detached building in existence before 12 March 2020 that was used for commercial or industrial purpose, or a free standing block of flats, and its replacement with a detached block of flats or single house.
 
9 November 2020 Amendments

Residential space standards

The Government introduced temporary permitted development rights in 2013 to allow the conversion of offices to residential, as a means of tackling the chronic housing shortage in the UK. These have now been made permanent, and extended to allow the conversion of a wide range of commercial and agricultural premises to residential.
 
Until the update made in November, such conversions were not required to comply with any form of housing space standards.  This led to many instances of very small housing units being provided at high densities – and subsequently to widespread criticism owing to the poor quality accommodation delivered.
 
The latest changes have introduced a requirement that any prior approval application submitted after the 6 April 2021 involving a change of use to residential will need to comply with the Nationally Described Space Standards. However, the window to secure the required prior approval before compliance with the new standards must be demonstrated remains open until that date.
 
Takeaways

As previously mentioned, the initial relaxation of rules and the introduction of Class DA of the GPDO in March 2020 allowed for a temporary change of use of pubs, restaurants and cafes so that these businesses could offer hot and cold food takeaway and delivery services during the pandemic without having to make a planning application to do so. Ordinarily planning permission would have been required for this change of use, and the amendment was introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to help hospitality businesses that were unable to offer their usual services during lockdown to diversify.
 
This initial relaxation was due to end on the 23 March 2021 but the Government announced in November that this right will now be extended by another year until 23rd March 2022.
 
Whilst this flexibility will be welcomed by the hospitality industry, it also provides a clear indication that the Government considers the extension of these measures into the longer term necessary, presumably in anticipation of further lockdowns being required.
 
 
All of these provisions are subject to certain conditions and limitations so please do contact our team of planning consultants and solicitors if you need advice in respect of any development proposals you may have.

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