Permitted Development Rights – Change of use from Commercial to Residential

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Permitted Development Rights – Change of use from Commercial to Residential

Significant changes to Permitted Development Rights in recent years have allowed the change of use of buildings which fit certain criteria, without the need for full, traditional planning permission.  The most recent of these changes has brought into law the permitted development rights for commercial, business and services use (Class E) buildings to be changed to residential use (Class C3).

Change from Class E to Class C

The specific criteria for permitted development rights (without full planning permission), include the building being a maximum of 1.500 sq.m, having been used within the Class E framework for at least two years, and having been empty for three consecutive months (excluding any temporary closure due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions). Interestingly, buildings within conservation areas are allowed to be redeveloped under permitted development rights.

These changes could be significant in terms of the look and feel of the traditional High Street. On the positive side, increased housing numbers – particularly in accessible, sustainable urban areas could go a long way towards addressing the present housing crisis. On the other hand, perhaps another nail in the coffin of the British retail High Street and beyond for buildings presently deployed for commercial use. What is certain, is that a change to planning regulations such as these, and the rationalisation of the existing permitted development rights via consultation due to complete at the end of July 2021, will significantly improve the pace of change and permission, reducing the pressure on the over stretched town and district planning decision makers.

If you would like to know more about permitted development rights, are seeking planning or change of use advice or would like to discuss any other planning or change of use project, please contact our planning team on 01788 564680 or email

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