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New Legislation Relieves Planning Permission Problem

PCB Solicitors is reminding individuals across the region about changes to legislation which eliminates one of the main barriers associated with obtaining development rights for empty or underused buildings.

Ellen Roberts, commercial property specialist, is advising businesses and developers about legislation introduced earlier this year which will help property owners change the use of certain commercial properties without the need for planning permission, making it easier and cheaper to convert empty buildings into commercial spaces. 

These permitted development rights were introduced in May to encourage individuals to make the best use of empty buildings, and streamline the process with the removal of planning permission. Ellen Roberts explained: “The legislation was introduced as a result of the current economic climate where it’s simply not viable to have empty commercial buildings, Permitted Development Rights will help property owners change the use of certain buildings without having to obtain planning permission, which often delays the process. 

The changes follow recommendations made by the Mary Portas High Street Review which suggested that unnecessary regulations should be removed to make it easier for individuals to become traders on the high street. The new measures allow buildings to be used for new types of commercial ventures, and make it easier for entrepreneurs or SMEs to test new businesses or try pop-up venues by removing the costly delays of seeking planning – permission for ‘change of use’. 

Although the need for planning permission has been removed, owners and developers must notify the appropriate Local Authority, and development cannot commence until a decision has been made and approval granted. 

“The rights don’t just apply to commercial ventures, a building can be changed to a school for a single period of one academic year, providing the building has been approved for school use, and agricultural buildings can be converted for more flexible industrial use. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is only a temporary right and no prior approvals can be implemented after 30th May 2016. I’d urge property owners to make careful decisions about their future plans in terms of changing builds, as changing your mind once they change has been made it could be costly and time consuming process", Ellen concluded.

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