Forum: can internal works be carried out under permitted development rights?

Q - Class G, part 3, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015 allows changes of use from retail, betting offices or payday loan shops to mixed use to provide up to two flats...

...Condition (b) states that "where the development consists of a change of use of any building with a display window at ground floor level, the ground floor must not be used in whole or in part as a flat". If a new internal stairway or access area needs to be created on the ground floor to reach a flat or flats above, does this constitute part use of the ground floor as a flat? If not, can these internal works be carried out under permitted development rights to facilitate a new residential unit or units above? MM

A - On first reading, the condition quoted in the question suggests that the only way to access flats above would be via an external staircase, which would require planning permission unless one already existed. This would mean that the class G provision would not be very helpful, as it could rarely be used. If the entrance way at ground-floor level forms part of the flat, the condition is breached, so such a proposal would not be permitted development. I would suggest that, to comply with the condition, it would be necessary for the ground-floor element to comprise a corridor leading to a staircase, with any flats above having entrance doors on upper floors. An appeal decision from London involving a lawful development certificate (DCS Number 100-070-237) supports this conclusion. John Harrison

Q - Planning authorities can now require section 106 contributions for even a single dwelling, following the recent High Court ruling in R (West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. I have inherited a plot with planning permission granted and implemented in the 1960s, as shown by commencement and excavation certificates. I would now like to build a slightly larger house but would wish to avoid contributions for affordable housing and other section 106 costs. Would the fallback position of an existing implemented permission be a good defence against such demands? HS

Q - I submitted a planning application 16 weeks ago. The council recently advised that the red-lined site boundary was incorrectly drawn. It has invalidated the application and restarted the clock for the eight-week determination period. Under what legislation is it permissible to restart the application time in such circumstances? The planning authority cannot provide an answer. DS

Please send answers or comments to by 25 November 2015. We also welcome readers' new queries via the same address.

Edited by John Harrison

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