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GPDO – Light Industrial to Residential – Class PA

Sunday 1st October 2017, after 18 months, the world of permitted development rights waits no more: the temporary permitted development right for change of use from light industrial to residential becomes a reality.

From Sunday, and for the next three years, changing the use of a light industrial building (or part of a building so used) that is use class B1(c)[1], to residential, use class C3, benefits from a new permitted development right, subject to a prior approval process and various limitations and conditions, of course.  Or more specifically:

Class PA – premises in light industrial use to dwellinghouses

Development consisting of a change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from a use falling within Class B1(c) (light industrial) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of that Schedule.

Here are the exemptions and limitations:

  • The building must have been used solely for light industrial on 19th March 2014 (or when last in use if not in use on or since that date),
  • The prior approval date[2] must be before 1st October 2020;
  • The gross floorspace of the existing building cannot exceed 500 sq.m;
  • If occupied under an agricultural tenancy, express consent of both tenant and landlord is required,
  • No development can begin within one year of terminating an agricultural tenancy if it was terminated for the purpose of changing the use by virtue of Class PA (unless both the tenant and landlord have agreed in writing that the site is no longer required for agricultural purposes),
  • The site cannot be or form part of a site of special scientific interest; safety hazard zone or a military storage area,
  • The building cannot be listed, or be within the curtilage of a listed building; and
  • The site must not be or contain a scheduled monument.

As for the application for a determination as to whether prior approval is required, the developer must submit (amongst other things) a statement proving the building was solely in light industrial (B1(c)) use on 19th March 2014 (or when last in use if not in use on that date, and not in use since) – i.e. the lawful use of the building is solely B1(c), and this was the case on 19th March 2014.  The developer must also state the net increase in the number of dwellinghouses proposed.

And the local planning authority must consider whether its prior approval is required with regard to:

  • Transport and highways impact on the development
  • Contamination risks
  • Flood risks; and
  • Whether the change of use of the building to residential would have an adverse impact on the sustainability of the provision of industrial and/or storage or distribution services in that area - if the building (or part of a building, if only part is being converted) considered by the LPA as important for provision of those services.

Development under class PA, if permitted, is subject to the condition that it be completed within a period of three years starting with the date of prior approval.

Details of Class PA are in the April 2016 amendment to the GPDO[3]

The Reaction

Are we excited/worried about the changes…? Well, in respect of the latter,  LB Southwark clearly are - on Thursday 28th September 2017, they announced consultation on an immediate Article 4 direction[4] removing Class PA permitted development rights in specified locations (Local and Strategic Preferred Industrial Locations and existing and emerging site allocations for comprehensive mixed use development).

An immediate Article 4 Direction would open the Council up to potential claims for compensation under the terms of  the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and the Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (England) Regulations 2015 (as amended). Not a decision taken lightly, I suspect.

Others have already used Article 4 Directions, albeit a little while earlier, including LB Hounslow – where an Article 4 Direction comes into force in January 2018, and LB Islington, where it’s already in force, to name but a few.

But are these councils right to be cautious, are we about to see a glut of changes of use removing light industrial space from our towns and cities?

In my view, probably not. The combination of finding a building that is under 500sqm, that can be proved to be, or to have been solely in B1(c) use and that would not be deemed to impact on the sustainability of the provision of surrounding industrial and  storage uses may be tough. Particularly as the term ‘sustainability’ is not defined in the GPDO and is subject to interpretation (i.e. a matter of fact and degree that the decision-maker can decide).

So I don’t imagine an office to residential-style (Class O) style rush. But I suspect a few will test the water early on, perhaps on a par with the right for change of use from retail to residential (Class M). Assuming the Government captures the statistics as they do with other permitted development rights, we’ll find out in the next few quarterly releases how popular it has been.

Of course, if you do have a building you think may qualify for this permitted development right, and are interested in finding out more about how you may go about the prior approval process , please don’t hesitate to contact Lichfields.

Download Lichfields Use Class Order



[1] Use Class B1(c): use for any industrial process, being a use which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit

[2] “prior approval date” is defined in Paragraph X of Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) and means the date on which— (a) prior approval is given; or (b) a determination that such approval is not required is given or the period for giving such a determination (in this case 56 days) has expired without the applicant being notified whether prior approval is required, given or refused.



Image credit: Arcaid Images / Alamy Stock Photo


Paint the town incredible

Paint the town incredible

Grant Swan 26 Sept 2017
Last weekend I attended talks given by a variety of designers speaking at the London Design Festival. These graphic designers and artists all had something in common: their work being used by the public – whether that was as immersive public art, murals, way finding, or branding a pop-up embassy.
One of the speakers, Camille Walala, had livened up Exchange Square, Broadgate with her use of strong colour, bold shapes and an inflatable castle (why not?).
Camille hoped that ‘Villa Walala’ would “introduce a sense of the unexpected” into what is usually a corporate environment filled with “suits” and surrounded by tall offices and backing off Liverpool Street station. She also said, "I think that, to turn a corner into Broadgate, and find a huge, bouncy, pink and patterned house will be hugely entertaining.”[1]
Much of Camille’s work involves her Memphis Group-inspired bright shapes and colours, overlaid onto building facades and her designs always evoke a sense of fun and playfulness. Visitors to her current exhibition at the Now Gallery (inspired by hall of mirrors amusements) have said that it gave them the experience of being a child again. It’s had a very positive response, proven by the need to now ticket the exhibition since it has continued to grow hour-long queues.
Another talk I went to was by Michael Beirut from Pentagram, who worked on the branding of Hillary Clinton's election campaign. Another of his many projects I'll mention involved working on the environmental graphics for over 60 libraries in public schools across New York City. Because the book shelves had to be only so high for the children, they were offered a lot of wall space to play with. Murals were painted onto the library walls - a different artist for every library - and each reflected their school's own character and community. The murals have therefore given the pupils and librarians a better sense of belonging and ownership.
Colour can be a huge part of a place’s identity. If you look at the beautiful pastel-coloured houses of Cornwall, the colourful coastal homes of Cinque Terre, Stockholm’s bright old town of Gamla Stan, the royal blue Jardin Majorelle of Marrakech or the detailed facades of houses on Haight Street, San Francisco – all of these make up a big part of their city or region’s identity and are a draw for tourists too. Studies show that colour can affect our mood and influence our decision making in all environments [2], as written about in The Architecture of Happiness, so why wouldn’t we want to make our streets more colourful and vibrant?
To name a few colourful projects Lichfields has worked on, The Old Vinyl Factory has the Converse Wall of Clash mural on the Powerhouse which brings the disused building to life and there is also a wrap around Cabinet Building of Beatles mania. Part of The Deptford Project, The Rogers Stirk Harbour eight storey residential building located alongside the listed carriage ramp features brightly coloured privacy screens and overlooks a public market area.
Within London, here are a few colourful places I like:
Could our happiness be improved with more colourful buildings or public art in our neighbourhoods? With the help of the Government and local authorities working closely with artists and designers to represent local communities, I believe we would feel the difference.
Sadiq Khan has pledged to support 25 community-led projects through his Crowdfund London initiative, investing more than £400,000. These include light installations in Southall, and conversion of a disused rail line into a public park and green link. He says that, “our shared mission is to empower as many people as possible to shape their city. We believe that if we can achieve that, people will feel a stronger sense of local belonging, and that the places we create together will better serve the needs and aspirations of Londoners.”[3] Also coming soon, will be some public art to coincide with Battersea Power Station’s redevelopment. Jude Kelly (artistic director of the Southbank Centre and arts adviser for Battersea Power Station) wants a 3km “arts corridor” along the river featuring new artworks[4].
London Design Festival is on annually with events, talks and exhibitions across the city.

[1] [2] [3][4]