Almost a decade has passed since Permitted Development Rights (PDR) were introduced to allow change of use from commercial to residential, as a means of accelerating the delivery of new homes.
Much has changed since then: on the one hand, there was an initial slew of Article 4 Directions to prevent such changes of use occurring, and on the other, there was the introduction of Class E which allowed change of use to occur within a range of uses (retail, professional services, restaurants/cafes, offices, research and development facilities and light industrial uses, clinics, health centres, creches, day nurseries, day centres, gyms, and most indoor recreation facilities).
Shortly after the introduction of Class E, Class MA was also introduced to enable the conversion of Class E to residential use. This was technically a significant opportunity, allowing what was colloquially referred to as ‘Class Everything’ to convert to residential use, it seemed that few buildings would be exempt.
But more recently in London we are finding that PDR is resisted to such an extent that the traditional route of submitting a planning application is not only a more thorough and satisfactory route to a quality conversion, but can be just as quick. And every indication is that this is taking hold across the country.
As Government policy has introduced increased flexibility, local authorities have increasingly pursued a retaliatory path.