Coming into force from 15thApril, the new permitted development rights are planned to reduce the bureaucratic burden in order to benefit both the public and private sectors. Whilst some of these permitted rights may appear a relaxation of existing law, conditions and restrictions will apply and in most cases prior approval will be needed. Nevertheless the new rules allow us to look at properties in a different way.
Over the last 12 months weve got used to changing offices and upper floors above shops to residential use and this has had the effect of reducing the stock of available offices, especially around the town centre. The first of the new rights allows change of use from light industrial, storage or distribution to residential use up to c.5000 Sq.Ft. for a three year period expiring on 15 April 2018. "This will focus small developers attention on the potential conversion of small industrial properties in locations where the neighbours aren’t too industrial says Hannah.
In the High Street a permitted change from retail to (A2) financial services and retail/financial services to food and drink will add flexibility to the street scene. "For years planning regulations have scuppered change on the High Street” says Hannah, "but the new rules will allow flexibility based upon demand. I anticipate several applications previously turned down on the basis of the out-date Neighbourhood Plan will now move ahead.” In addition the new rules allow for the installation of click and collect facilities within the curtilage of an existing retail shop recognising the modern way we shop.
In recognition of the way people use town centres nowadays there is now a permitted change from retail/financial services, betting offices, pay day loan shops and casinos to assembly and leisure uses.
It is interesting to note that the existing temporary right that currently permits a change from office to residential use has not been extended as was formerly predicted. It will still cease on 30 May 2016. Take up in this sector of the market has been strong and has had the effect of reducing office availability in the town quite significantly whilst bringing new people to live in the very centre itself, thus increasing demand and economic activity.
It is possible that this was the flexibility Mary Portas had in mind in her advice to Government 4 years ago. Let’s hope that Northampton town centre benefits as a result both in an increase in commercial property transactions and improved economic activity as a result of these changes.