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Can you change your hairdressers into a café or your shop into a cinema without planning permission?

Posted by Lotty Reeves on 22nd April 2015

New rules relating to permitted development rights and planning procedures came into force on 15 April 2015 which could potentially lead to noticeable changes in our town and city centres.

The changes referred to above are The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“GPDO 2015”), The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) Order 2015 (“2015 Order”) and The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (“DMPO 2015”).

Permitted Development Rights

As well as consolidating the vast array of previous amendments to The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, the GPDO 2015 also introduced a number of new Permitted Development Rights.
Some of the most noteworthy extensions brought in by the GPDO 2015 (although this is by no means a comprehensive list) are as follows:

  • A permitted change from retail (falling within Use Class A1) to financial services (Class A2);
  • An extension, for a further 3 years until May 2019, of the existing Permitted Development Right for larger householder rear extensions;
  • A permitted change from retail/financial services (Class A1/A2) to food and drink (Class A3);
  • A permitted change from retail/financial services (A1/A2), betting offices, pay day loan shops and casinos to assembly and leisure (Class D2);
  • Permitted development for retailers to erect “click and collect” facilities within the curtilage of existing premises;
  • A temporary right, for three years until April 2018, to allow up to 500sqm of storage and distribution buildings (falling within B8) to change to residential (falling within Use Class C3); and
  • Permitted development for the temporary filming of commercial film making within existing buildings and outside on sites of up to 1.5 hectares.

While some of these rights appear to be a generous relaxation of the existing law, conditions and restrictions inevitably apply in most cases, with the prior approval of the local authority generally required. As a result, anyone considering taking advantage of these new rights should seek prior advice before doing so.

It is also worth mentioning that that the existing temporary rights permitting a change of use from office to residential have not been extended by the GPDO 2015 and will still expire on 30 May 2016.

Changes affecting betting shops and pay day loan shops

To address a perceived issue with a proliferation of new betting offices and pay day loan shops appearing in our high streets in recent years, both betting shops and pay day loan shops, previously falling within Class A2, have now been removed from this class and made sui generis by the 2015 Order.

Although not a bar on new betting and pay day loans shops, this change could have a significant impact on them as it means that planning permission will be required for all new betting shops and pay day loan shops, even if such new units are just a change of use from Class A2 (which previously would have been permitted development).

To ensure that landlords are not unduly restricted as to their next tenant when a betting shop lease comes to an end, premises currently used as betting and pay day loan shops have been granted permitted development rights to Class A1 or A2.

Procedure for Discharge of Planning Conditions

As well as consolidating the existing legislation in this area, the DMPO 2015 introduces a new procedure which allows some planning conditions to be deemed to be discharged if the planning authority fails to make a decision within 8 weeks of an application to discharge the condition.

The new procedure requires the applicant to submit a “deemed discharge notice” to the planning authority at least 6 weeks after submission of an application to discharge a condition and the notice will take effect 2 weeks later if the planning authority has not made a decision in the meantime.

The new procedure has been created to assist applicants in overcoming delays in the Local Authority discharging planning conditions. However, the practical effect of the new procedure remains to be seen as there is a long list of exclusions from these deeming provisions, including some of the most troublesome conditions, such as those relating to the environment, contaminated land, flooding, highways, SSSIs, approved of reserved matters and planning obligations.

For further information, please contact Natalie Kay at

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