UK: New Planning Rules In Force From 30 May 2013 Extend Rights To Change Use Without Planning Permission

Summary and implications

The Government published legislation at the end of last week that will relax the rules on when planning permission is needed for change of use. The new rules come into force on 30 May 2013 and are intended to assist regeneration and get empty and under-used buildings back into productive use.

The changes that will be introduced through an amendment to the General Permitted Development Order 1995, will allow for the first time the following changes of use without the need to obtain planning permission:

  • offices to residential use;
  • flexibility between high street uses;
  • agricultural buildings to a range of new business uses; and
  • opening of new state-funded schools.

Points to note

Some of the changes permitted are only available for a limited period of time and there are a number of exemptions and conditions that apply. The rules do not apply to listed buildings or scheduled monuments, military explosives storage areas or areas that are a safety hazard.

This briefing note focuses on the changes that will be of particular interest to commercial landowners and developers.

How will the changes affect commercial landowners and developers?

a) Office to residential use

The new rules permit a change of use from B1(a) offices to C3 residential use without the need to apply for planning permission.


Following the Government's announcement in January, 30 out of the 33 London boroughs and seven out of the eight largest cities outside London sought an exemption to this rule on the grounds of exceptional economic circumstances. However, only 17 local authorities were successful for either parts of or the whole of the area within their control. These areas are set out in the table below.

How long are the rules in force?

This new rule applies only to buildings in B1(a) office use before 30 May 2013 and can only be relied upon for three years, expiring on 30 May 2016.

Will affordable housing be required?

Changes of use permitted by this amendment to the General Permitted Development Order will not engage affordable housing policies and other policies within the local plan. Affordable housing obligations will therefore not be required.

Are there any other conditions that must be observed?

In order to rely on these rules, an application to the local authority for a determination as to whether prior approval is required in relation to transport and highways impacts, contamination or flooding risks on-site must be made before beginning the development.

b) High street changes of use

This is a temporary measure to encourage and assist pop-up ventures and people looking to test new business ideas. It allows changes of use from Class A1 shops, A2 financial and professional services, A3 restaurants and cafes, A4 drinking establishments, A5 hot food takeaways, B1 businesses, D1 non-residential institutions and D2 assembly and leisure to a flexible use falling within either Class A1 shops, A2 financial and business services, Class A3 restaurants and cafes and B1 businesses.


In addition to the general exemptions that apply, buildings that exceed 150 square metres are exempt.

How long are the rules in force?

The rules are only in force for two years. The building reverts to its previous lawful use at the end of the period of flexible use. This means that planning permission will be required in order to continue the use at the end of this period.

Are there any other conditions that must be observed?

The planning authority must be notified of the date the building will begin to be used for one of the flexible uses and what that use will be, before the use begins. The building may be used for just one of the use classes comprising the flexible uses at a time. A further change within the two-year period is permitted provided the local authority is notified.

c) Agricultural buildings to a range of new business uses

The new rules also allow existing redundant agricultural buildings of 500 sq m or less to change to use within either Class A1 shops, Class A2 financial and professional services, Class A3 restaurants and cafes, Class B1 businesses, Class B8 storage and distribution, Class C1 hotels or Class D2 assembly and leisure. If there is a change of use of an agricultural building in reliance on this rule it shall be treated as having a sui generis use. The new rules do not allow conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use without the prior grant of planning permission.

d) Opening of new state-funded schools

There is a series of measures to make it easier to convert existing buildings to become new state-funded schools. Premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions and leisure and assembly uses will be able to change use permanently to a state-funded school. These changes are subject to prior approval process to mitigate any adverse transport and noise impacts.

In addition, and to provide certainty that a school opening will not be delayed by an outstanding planning application, for one academic year buildings in any use class will be able to be used as a state-funded school. The site reverts to its previous lawful use at the end of the academic year. If the one-year rule is to be relied upon the site must be approved for use as a state-funded school by the Government.

e) Flexibility for business use

The thresholds by which industrial and warehouse developments, office buildings, shops, catering , financial or professional service establishments may be extended before planning permission is required have also been extended up until 30 May 2016.

What impact will the new rules have?

These changes are a significant extension of the existing permitted development rights and will be welcomed by most landowners and developers in who have assets in areas that are not exempt.

One of the major attractions will be the ability to change from office to residential use and avoid the requirement to provide affordable housing. This is likely to create a significant market advantage for schemes in the short to medium term compared with residential developments of comparable size that are developed on non-office sites.

However, landowners and developers should pay particular attention to the time limits within which these rules apply. The operation of the rights will be reconsidered by the Government towards the end of the period to which they apply and the rights may potentially be extended for a further period or indefinitely.

Next steps

If you wish to find out more about the legislative changes that come into force on 30 May 2013, you can view the legislation here:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.