RESPONSE to QUESTIONNAIRE
Do you agree there should be permitted development rights (PDR), as proposed, for shops (A1) and financial and professional services (A2) to change use to a dwelling house
(C3) and to carry out building work connected with the change of use?
Yes, provided the caveats as proposed are included.
How do you think the prior approval requirement should be worded, in order to ensure that it is tightly defined and delivers maximum benefits?
The list of exemptions must be clear - protected areas (Article 1 (5) land), listed buildings and buildings over 150 sq. m. floor space. To prevent
conversion to HMO use is welcomed, but once a building has acquired Class C3 use it can convert to Class C4 use without planning consent, so this loophole needs to be filled
If maximum benefits are to follow the conversions of retail premises into flats or apartments, Local Planning Authorities (LPA) need to be able to expect proposals to consider
the needs and demands of local communities before they are approved. In too many towns and cities such conversions have produced dwellings of a size that is not appropriate
for long-term occupation. Too many one and two bedroom flats have been created over the shops with inadequate facilities, so that they either become buy-to-let properties
for short-term tenancies or used as weekend boltholes for well-to-do city dwellers. It would be wiser to include an assessment by the LPA of the folly of providing more one
and two bedroom apartments, so that where there is a surfeit already and where the local need is for long-term family-friendly flats, full planning applications may be sought
in order to create a balanced sustainable community.
Accordingly to allow up to four apartments in any conversion could mean that dwellings of even less than 38 sq .m. are acceptable. Such apartments might be priced to suit
singletons or couples as first-time buyers or renters, but as soon as they have children they would need to seek larger accommodation. This is not conducive to community
coherence. To limit the number to no more than three dwellings equates to accepting dwellings of no less than 50 sq. m., which would be more useful and supportive of
Although primary shopping streets in town and city centres merit protection from PDR, properties with Class A1 and A2 uses in certain local situations such as suburbs and
villages where they may important for the viability and vitality of the local community, also merit protection.
One question raised was why this PDR is not extended to Use Classes A3, A4 and A5. NORA members see no reason for their exclusion and recommend their inclusion.
NORA members want LPAs to have adequate discretion along the lines just explained when considering granting prior approval for changes of use from Classes A1 and A2.
Do you agree there should be permitted development rights for retail units (A1) to change use to banks and building societies?
Do you agree there should be permitted development rights, as proposed, for existing buildings used for agricultural purposes to change use to a dwelling house (C3) and to
carry out building work connected with the change of use?
No, unless the following caveats are included.
LPAs need support in seeking planning applications where farms are in isolated areas with no facilities nearby - such as shops and schools - and poor roads may not permit
adequate access for essential services.
We seek removal of the proposal to allow demolition as permitted development may also be undesirable, because the new buildings replacing the old may be totally alien in the
We also seek the exclusion of agricultural buildings in protected rural areas. This particularly applies to the Green Belt. Developers could use this relaxation of the
planning restrictions to buy up agricultural buildings, and either develop them or demolish them and build larger buildings using the same footprint in areas where new
developments are prohibited. The Green Belt must be protected by appropriate management by the LPA. But agricultural buildings in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and
Sites of Special Scientific Interest merit exclusion too for the same reasons.
Accordingly we seek these three exclusions from PDR.
Do you agree that there should be permitted development rights, as proposed, to allow offices (B1), hotels (C1); residential institutions (C2); secure residential
institutions (C2A) and assembly and leisure (D2) to change use to nurseries proving childcare and to carry out building work connected with the change of use?
Do you agree there should be permitted development rights, as proposed, for buildings used for agricultural purposes to change use to new state funded schools or nurseries
providing childcare and to carry out building work connected with the change of use?
No. The same caveats apply to this proposal as Question 4.
The exclusion of the three items from PDR - isolated farm buildings with poor facilities, demolitions and protected rural areas so that planning applications would be
needed - are essential in order to protect the environment and the community.
Do you have any comments and further evidence on the benefits and impact of our proposals set out in the consultation?
The main concern expressed by NORA members is related to the long-term effect on the environment particularly of town centres. What will be the consequences when the
expected revival of the economy takes place? Since any changes of use and changes to facades from retail to residential are most unlikely to be reversed because of the
expense involved, the overall effect on the environment needs to be considered when prior approvals are being assessed.
A further concern is the effect changes will have on traffic. In town centres vehicular access by residents can present problems, whilst in rural areas road access for
service vehicles may prove problematic. These issues need to be necessary matters to be considered when granting prior approval.
The key issue is to ensure that LPAs are able to demand full planning applications when the proposals are likely to prove either deleterious to the environment or not in the long-term interest of the community.
Alan B Shrank - NORA chairman