Article published 23/05/2019.
Draft regulations have now been laid before parliament introducing a handful of new permitted development rights set to change the face of the high street.
New class JA to the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (the GPDO) permits the conversion of shops and other high street uses, including takeaways, betting offices, payday loan shops, and launderettes, to offices. This new ‘permission’ is subject to prior approval by the local authority on matters of transport, highway and noise impact, the adequacy of the building to which the use is proposed, and the impact on a town’s shopping centre. There is also a limit on the amount of floorspace changing use to a maximum of 500m2.
Class M of the GPDO has been amended to allow takeaways to change use to residential without the need for planning permission. Again, this right is subject to prior approval from the local authority.
The new amendments also extend the temporary conversion of shops and other high street premises to a wider range of community uses such as libraries, museums, medical centres and exhibition areas. This temporary use has also been extended to 3 years.
Good news for home-owners – the amendments will make permanent a previous temporary permitted development right for single-storey home extensions of up to 8m for detached houses and up to 6m for all other houses.
Whilst government has not yet said yes to the upward extension of properties in some areas that had been proposed during the consultation, they are still minded to look at the detail of the proposals and are committed to bringing this forward in future.
And lastly, the previous permitted right to install, alter or replace phone boxes has been removed, as has the previous ‘deemed consent’ to advertise in/on phone boxes. An attempt to combat the proliferation of unwanted advertising, large and small!
The impact that all of these amendments will have on our shopping centres and streets is yet to be seen but there has been a mixed reaction to the proposals. Some forecast that the new right to change the use of many more types of shop-front premises to be used as offices will deaden the high street and create precincts full of front desks and reception areas for businesses that do not need to occupy such prominent positions. But what “harm” will this do, in reality? Perhaps this change will simply increase consumers’ ability and willingness to deal with businesses on a more face-to-face basis?
Alongside, the temporary permission to use front-facing premises for more community-based uses will, in my opinion, help to increase the failing attendance rates in town centres. If local authorities and car park providers can tap into this market (by not over-charging for business rates and parking), they could see a new type of consumer on the precinct.
Bulk convenience shopping has long been heading towards the online delivery pinnacle but with these changes, we could see the types of provisions which were previously sent to the side-streets to occupy large former residential properties, such as galleries, homeopathic and well-being centres, health providers, counselling services, come into the light and showcase their qualities far more visibly and to a much wider audience.