Spring Statement: Brokenshire confirms introduction of town centre PD right changes

The government will bring forward most of its controversial package of new permitted development (PD) rights and use class flexibilities that aim to boost ailing high streets, but it is still considering proposals to allow office demolition for new homes, housing secretary James Brokenshire announced this afternoon.

High streets: government proposals intended to boost flagging town centres
High streets: government proposals intended to boost flagging town centres

Last October, the MHCLG published a consultation on a series of proposed new measures, called Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes.

The chancellor's Spring Statement confirmed that the government would introduce a "package of reforms including allowing greater change of use between premises".

In a written ministerial statement published after the Spring Statement, Brokenshire said the government would: 

  • take forward a PD right "to extend upwards certain existing buildings in commercial and residential use to deliver additional homes, engaging with interested parties on design and technical details". He said the new right would have to deliver homes that "respect the design of the existing streetscape, while ensuring that the amenity of neighbours is considered". 
  • introduce a new PD right allowing shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, pay day loan shop and launderettes to change use to an office (B1) and to allow hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential use (C3). 
  • clarify the ability of A-class uses to "diversify and incorporate ancillary uses without undermining the amenity of the area". 
  • extend the existing right that allows the temporary change of use of buildings from two to three years and enable more community uses to take advantage of this temporary right, "enabling such premises to more easily locate on the high street". 
  • make permanent the temporary PD right to build larger single-storey rear extensions to homes and "to introduce a proportionate fee". 

But he said the government would "review" existing PD rights for the conversion of buildings to residential use in "respect of the quality standard of homes delivered". 

The government would also "continue to consider the design" of a proposed PD right allowing commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes, Brokenshire added. The right was announced last October alongside the other new PD rights.

And he said he would not extend the temporary right for change of use from storage to residential, which will lapse on 10 June 2019. 

He further confirmed that the government would scrap the controversial PD right "and associated advertising deemed consent" for new telephone kiosks

Brokenshire said he intended to implement the PD right measures "in the spring", with "the more complex matters, including on upward extensions, covered in a further package of regulations in the autumn".

The housing secretary went on to say the government would "shortly" publish a new consultation called Better Planning for High Streets

"This will set out tools to support local planning authorities in reshaping their high streets to create prosperous communities, particularly through the use of compulsory purchase, local development orders and other innovative tools," he said.

Last week, the Royal Town Planning Institute called on the government to drop the proposals for new town centre PD rights to avoid the risk of creating "dead frontages" on high streets across the country.


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