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“Build, Build, Build” - Part 2: ‘Tall Storeys’

Planning consultant David Kemp, director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

On 30 January 2020, a little-known independent body, the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, published its review of the Planning System, with recommendations permeating the area of design, planning process and permitted development rights. Much of this report sought to address common criticisms of existing PD rights, such as the conversion of office to residential use.  

This review has since helped to shape the most recent planning reforms published through three separate statutory instruments addressing the following, all of which take effect from 1 September:
- Changes to the Use Classes Order
- Introducing new PD rights for additional storeys to a range of different building types
- Introducing a new PD right to demolish and reconstruct offices or blocks of flats

The new rights have stirred considerable interest amongst developers and landlords, but how easy will it be to take advantage of these new rights to add extra floor space and will they have the impact that the Government hopes they will?

‘Ready, aim, fire!’
It may seem rather confusing that seven new PD rights are introduced all at the same time. However, six of these are merely variations on the same theme – additional storeys to existing buildings – with only one PD right relevant in any case, depending on whether your building is detached vs terraced, or in mixed use vs in use only as a single house or flats. The seventh PD right relates to the right to provide a new and taller replacement building on the site of an existing building.

Age restrictions apply
All the new PD rights for extra storeys only apply to buildings constructed after 1 July 1948 and before 5 March 2018 (the date when the Minister first announced the new PD rights to Parliament); the ‘end date’ for PD to add extra space, but not extra units, on houses is 28 October 2018 and not 5 March. For replacement of existing buildings, the use of the building as flats or B1 Use must have existed since at least 1 January 1990.

Developers will need to be creative in researching this, looking to various sources including their architect’s estimate of the age, Google Earth (although unreliable before some dates), old building control records and websites such as ‘Old Maps’ (www.old-maps.co.uk).

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