Using offices for housing – some findings on impact

This month has seen a trio of research publications on permitted development from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). One of these looks at the impact that office to residential conversions have had under the General Permitted Development legislation. One of the case studies is Leeds, where effects have not been as severe as some other areas studied by the RICS research team. Elsewhere in the country, the authors conclude that substandard accomodation has been provided through these freedoms in addition to loss of planning fee income and affordable housing contribtion monies. On the positive side, of course housing has been provided and the RICS team estimate that many millions of pounds worth of planning officers time has been saved in them not having to have processed applications for these types of schemes. We will see if these reports have any ‘impact’ on the Government’s approach to permitted development! Whether this is the case or not, is always worth looking at what is possible under these provisions – here at Northern Planners, we know our way around the relevant legal Order and what is possible to do without an application for express planning permission!

 

The Local Plan is dead, Long live the Local Plan

In an earlier post, we reported on the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework published in March. We pointed out a number of changes that might be of immediate interest/use to our clients. Another significant but longer term issue that is reflected in the draft document is change to the Development Plan regime. In future, Local Plans as they are now understood, will be discretionary. Instead, local planning authorities will be required, as a minimum to set out their key priorities in a strategic plan covering a small set of high-level issues. This requirement stems from the 2017 Neighbourhood Planning Act. The look of the new system has yet to be fully articulated – it will still be possible for authorities to produce additional ‘local’ plans to their strategic plan but perhaps this detail might well increasingly be provided by community-led neighbourhood plans, like those Northern Planners have had a hand in here in Yorkshire, such as Cottingham and Oxenhope. Understanding what the Development Plan is for an area is vital, given that its policies and proposals are the basis for decisions on planning applications. Northern Planners are expert at this.