Growing uptake of new farm building and shop PD conversion rights

The uptake of new rules allowing shops and farm buildings to be turned into homes without the need for planning permission has risen sharply, new figures show, with authorities also refusing a high number of applications.

Barn conversion: level of applications has risen
Barn conversion: level of applications has risen

The Department for Communities and Local Government's latest planning statistics for England for July to September this year includes figures for ‘prior approval’ applications.

These allow, subject to certain limitations, the conversion of offices, shops and farm buildings into homes and certain household extensions under new permitted development rights.

The number of prior approval applications made remained steady in the year’s third quarter at 9,568, compared to 9,602 submitted between April and June.

Most of these, 72 per cent, were householder extension applications, which at 6,884, dropped slightly from the 7,664 in the previous quarter.

Similarly, the number of office-to-residential applications, the second largest category at 11 per cent, was 1,082, up slightly from 1,068.

However, retail-to-residential conversions, only introduced in April, almost quadrupled between the quarters from 47 to 184, while the refusal rate doubled, from just 14 per cent to 28 per cent.

Agricultural-to-residential conversions, brought into force at the same time, have also shot up from 162 to 672 ,with an even higher refusal rate at 52 per cent.

Refusal rates for householder extension and office-to-residential prior approval applications were 15 and 16 per cent respectively.

Planning application figures show that 78 per cent of major decisions were approved within 13 weeks, 9 per cent higher than the same quarter last year and the second-highest since records began.

However, only 70 per cent of minor decisions were approved in 8 weeks, down slightly from both the previous quarter and the same quarter last year.

The third quarter saw local planning authorities receive 118,900 planning applications, with 88 per cent of decisions being approvals.

The figures can be found here

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