Can a commercial property be changed to a residential property?
2 August 2018 by Sharon Smith
For planning purposes, commercial property will be categorised into a use class in accordance with the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).
The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (GPDO) (as amended) in Schedule 2 Part 3 provides for certain changes of use without needing a formal express planning application to the Council. This is known as deemed consent. Some require nothing further, whereas some of these use changes are subject to determination by the Local Planning Authority as to whether or not their prior approval is required.
For example, a change of use from a retail shop (Class A1) to use as financial and professional services (A2) comprises Permitted Development (deemed consent) where no determination by the Local Authority is necessary subject to no restrictions being in place preventing such a change occurring. Such a restriction could, for example, be a planning condition preventing the change of use.
Classes O and P of the GPDO provide for a change of use from offices/storage/distribution to a residential use subject to prior notification to the Council. There are a limited number of factors that must be considered/addressed as part of this process. A number of office blocks have been successfully converted into residential units under the Class O provision.
Some uses comprise a Sui Generis use, a use not falling within one of the defined use classes. This will mean that express planning permission is required for any change of use where the existing use is a Sui Generis use.
If the property you are looking to purchase or lease does not fall within the use class you are intending to operate, it does not necessarily mean that your proposed use is unacceptable, simply that it may require the benefit of express planning permission.
An express planning application will be considered and assessed against planning policy.
If a commercial use has been ongoing for more than 10 years without the benefit of the relevant planning permission for that use, it may be possible to demonstrate that the use has become lawful and immune from enforcement action by the Council.
Sharon is able to answer your questions on use classes and changes of use and can prepare and submit planning applications or appeals.
If you are interested in discussing an existing or proposed use, why not book an appointment to see Sharon at Charter Court, CO4 9YA, call 01206 700113 or email [email protected]