News Update

Government ‘Build Build Build’ Reforms under review following challenge by Campaign Group

The governments initiative of “build build build” has been met with a mixture of enthusiasm and criticism.

In a relatively short period of time 3 statutory instruments have been introduced, which are summarised below.

A non-governmental action group known as ‘Rights: Community: Action Limited’ has sent out a pre action letter setting out grounds to challenge these new rules on permitted development rights on the following grounds:

  • The government unlawfully failed to carry out an environmental assessment.
  • The statutory instruments were introduced without complying with the public sector equality duties. Decision makers should have been informed about what protected groups are being affected and those that would need to be taken into consideration before a decision is made.
  • The government failed to consider the consultation responses and other material considerations. This includes the government’s own expert advice which was not in all cases favourable.

Landmark Chambers have published the pre-action letter available here

Annex: Summary changes to Permitted Development Rights

1.   Firstly, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 (SI 2020/755) (2020 Order) has been made and came into force on the 31st of August 2020.

  • The order has inserted a new Class AA into Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development ) (England) Order 2015 and this new class permits an enlargement of a private dwelling house by constructing new storeys on top of the highest existing storey of that building. Two additional storeys may be added if the existing building is 2 or more storeys tall and one additional storey where the existing building consists of just one storey.
  • The Order has furthermore inserted a new Class AA into part 20 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development ) (England) Order 2015. This class permits the construction of up to two new storeys of flats on top of detached buildings in commercial or mixed use buildings including where there is an element of residential and commercial uses and includes all uses falling within retail or financial services, restaurant and offices and betting or payday loan shops or laundrettes.
  • The Order furthermore has inserted a new Class AB into Part 20 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. This permits the construction of new flats on top of terraced buildings and semi detached buildings in commercial or mixed use buildings. 2 storeys can be built if the existing building is two or more storeys tall or one additional storey if the building consists of just one storey.
  • The order also inserts a new Class AC into Part 20 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development ) (England) Order 2015. This permits the construction of new flats on top of terrace houses which are purely residential. The same limitations as to one and two storey extensions apply as above.
  • Finally, The order inserts a new Class AD Part 20 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development ) (England) Order 2015. This permits the construction of new flats on top of detached residential buildings. Again, the limitations as mentioned.

As with other permitted development legislation, prior approval is required from the local planning authority before construction can be commenced.

2.   Secondly, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2020 has been made and came into force on the 31st of August 2020. It inserts a new Class ZA into the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, which allows for the demolition of a single detached building that was previously used either as offices or as a free standing purpose built block of flats and its replacement with a detached block of flats or single detached dwelling house within the footprint of the existing old building. The replacement building to be constructed, can be up to two storeys higher than the existing building but with the maximum overall height of 18 metres.

In order to qualify the existing building

  • must (have) exist(ed) on 12th of March 2020
  • cannot have a footprint larger than 1000 square metres and
  • cannot be higher than 18 metres and
  • must have been built before 1990.

A further requirement is that it must have been vacant for at least six months before the date of application for prior approval, which is also needed in order to commence works.

3.   Thirdly on the 1st of September 2020 Changes to the Use Classes Order 1987 came into force. We have summarised these in our previous article here.

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Claudia Otto
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