Relaxed shop-to-home conversion rules to come into force next month

Out-Law News | 17 Mar 2014 | 2:44 pm | 1 min. read

New rules allowing buildings used as shops or for the provisions of financial or professional services to be converted into homes without the need for planning permission will come into force on 6 April. 

The Government published an order last week to amend existing permitted development rights. It follows a consultation on the proposals, aimed at supporting the high street and rural communities, last year.

Under the rules, shops and buildings used for financial or professional services with a floorspace below 150 square metres may be converted into homes without the requirement to obtain planning permission.

The building will need to have been in use as a shop or for financial or professional services on 20 March 2013 or when it was last in use and the external dimensions of the building must not increase.

The change of use will be subject to an application to the local authority to determine whether prior approval is needed in relation to matters including the transport and noise impacts of the development as well as contamination and flood risks on the site.

The rules also allow for agricultural buildings with a floorspace below 450 to be converted into up to three homes. Such change of use will also need to follow the prior approval process.

"The government believes that a proportionate and responsive planning system is vital to deliver the sustainable development needed swiftly and smoothly, freeing up the planning system so that change of use can take place more freely and owners are able to make best use of their property," said the Department for Communities and Local Government in its response to the consultation on the proposals.