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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Shaw

All you need to know about permitted development changes

With so much happening last year, it’s fair to assume that there are those who may have missed some significant changes to development planning and building regulations. We’ve put together a quick round up of everything you need to know.

What’s happened?

In August 2020, the government introduced a whole host of permitted development rights in England. A month later, significant changes to the Use Class system were made through the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. Experts in the property sector are calling it the biggest shake-up to the planning system they have ever seen. Ultimately, the changes mean that previously unused sites and assets can be brought back to use, meaning a more effective use of under-utilised land.

What are the changes?

1. Use Classes

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 is the legislation that places uses of land and buildings into different categories known as ‘Use Classes’. Since the amendments were introduced last year, there has been significant changes to the use classes system in England (Use Class Order 1987) through the new Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020. According to property insiders, the main reason for these changes is to allow buildings in town centres and on the high street to be repurposed.

The new regulations have introduced three new use classes - E, F1 and F2. ‘Class E’ is touted as the most significant change as it has clumped together a wider variety of uses including:

· Retail

· Restaurants

· Financial, professional or other commercial services

· Publicly accessible indoor sport, recreation or fitness

· Publicly available medical or health services

· Crèches, day nurseries and day centres

· Offices, including research and development

· Industrial uses, which do not harm amenity.

This is a really important move for property developers and business users, as they will be able to change the uses of their properties without having to get planning permission. For example, if you buy an empty shop on the high street, you can change it to an office, then a flat then back to a shop without any planning approval needed.

Click here for a deeper guide to the Use Classes Order changes.

2. Permitted Development Rights

The government has also implemented a number of changes to permitted development rights, including allowing post-war built homes to extend upwards by two-storeys and allowing the demolition and rebuilding of offices describes as “vacant and redundant” and light industrial buildings into homes. These rights also extend to the creating to new homes above offices and shops – all without needing to get planning permission.

What do these changes mean?

These changes come as a way to support government plans to bring people back to town centres, which are fast becoming ghost towns.

It’s a known fact that many high streets are struggling, especially with the latest news of retail giants such as Debenhams and the Arcadia Group going into administration. Being able to transform a high street shop to fit your business purpose, without applying for planning permission first, confirms this.

The new changes will make for easy development, which will help get the economy back up and running after COVID-19. Being able to get development started without having to wait for planning permission will ensure that more contractors are kept in regular employment and not waiting around in between jobs.


If you are a property developer or investor wanting to clarify these planning permits, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team and we can see how we can help you.


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Investors, Landlords, and Tenants alike can keep up-to-date with the latest industry changes and news on our website or follow us on LinkedIn Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Normette Homes specialises in property investment and tenant sourcing.


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