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Pop-ups without planning permission and 15 per cent fee hike proposed

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The government has revealed new proposals to allow ‘meanwhile use’ of sites without planning permission and a relaxation of the rules governing farm building conversions

The proposed changes, which are designed to boost growth by streamlining the application process, follow the government’s wide-ranging overhaul of the planning system, which replaced a glut of existing legislation with a 50-page National Planning Policy Framework.

Included in the fresh tranche is a ‘one-off’ 15 per cent hike in planning fees, starting in the autumn, which the government says is needed ‘to resource planning departments properly and ensure local rate payers cease subsidising the service’.

A boost for ‘pop-up’ transformations of derelict sites features in the proposed changes to the Use Classes Order. Under the plans, which went out for consultation last week, retail, office, institutional and leisure buildings would have permitted development rights for temporary uses for up to two years, with clients required only to submit a notification to local councils.

Agricultural buildings would also be allowed to be converted into any use ‘supporting rural growth’ – including hotels, cafés and offices – without the burden of submitting for planning permission. Hotels will be permitted to become houses, while the building size threshold for conversions from industrial (B2) to businesses and offices (B1) and warehouses (B8) would be doubled.

A separate consultation will look at proposals to cut requirements for planning applications, which would see detailed information requirements relating to layout and scale dropped on outline applications. The scope of design and access statements on outline planning applications is also up for review.

Applications for full planning permission would be streamlined by encouraging local authorities to slim down their information requirements while application forms themselves will also be simplified. Planning minister Greg Clark said: ‘The proposals will help streamline applying for planning permission, ensure that planning is properly resourced and create greater engagement and accountability.’

But National Planning Forum chairman Brian Waters raised concerns over the proposed changes. He said: ‘It certainly means you don’t need an architect for outline planning applications. The big thing that is missing […] is the one that would boost the housing market and help the whole industry – B1 [office] uses going to housing.’


The changes in brief

The Palace of Westminster in London

The Palace of Westminster in London

  • Agricultural buildings to receive permitted development rights for conversion to ‘uses supporting rural growth’, including workshops, offices, storage, food processing, cafés, leisure and hotels
  • Building size threshold to increase from 235m² to 470m² for permitted development rights for conversion between B1 (businesses or offices) and B8 (warehouse) and from B2 (industrial) to B1 and B8
  • Retail, office, institutional and leisure buildings to have permitted development rights for temporary uses for two years
  • Allowance for residential units above shops without planning permission to double from one to two
  • Hotels, boarding houses and guest houses to convert to dwelling houses without planning permission
  • Layout and scale information requirements for outline applications to be removed
  • Content of design and access statements for outline applications to be reviewed
  • Local authorities encouraged to revisit local information requirement lists at least once every two years
  • Standard application form to be simplified by amalgamating agricultural land declarations into ownership certificates
  • Planning application fees to increase by 15 per cent from this autumn
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