An amendment to the General Permitted Development Order which came into force on 30th May 2013 gives planning permission for the change of use of an agricultural building and its curtilage to a flexible use within use classes A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or D2. The new use is “flexible” in that after the change the site may subsequently change use to another within one of those use classes without further permission.
Use Classes are defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 in its current amended form. Space here does not permit complete definitions but, broadly and with stress on the need to check the current version of the order whenever applying it to a particular case, A1 is many types of shop, A2 is financial and professional services (but not health or medical services) and services appropriate in a shopping area provided principally to visiting members of the public, A3 is the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises, B1 is a non-A2 office, research and development and industrial processes which can be carried out in a residential area, B8 is storage and distribution, C1 is hotels and D2 is assembly and leisure.
Once a use has changed under this planning permission, the new use will be denied the usual rights to change use under the Use Classes Order. The flexible use has unexpected inflexibility.
The amendment applies only to England and then not to listed buildings, scheduled monuments, areas identified by the Health and Safety Executive as “safety hazard areas” and areas licensed by the Secretary of State for Defence as military explosives storage areas.
To benefit from the permission, the building must be used for agriculture for the purposes of a trade or business. It must have been solely in agricultural use since 3rd July 2012 unless it is a building that was first brought into use after that date in which case it will have to wait until it has been solely in agricultural use for ten years.
No more than, cumulated, 500 square metres of floor space of buildings on the agricultural unit as it was on
3rd July 2012 can benefit from the permission.
The amendment has tried to forestall discussion about what is the curtilage of an agricultural building by saying that it is the piece of land immediately beside or around it that is closely associated with it and serves its purposes as an agricultural building. There is still scope for debate. If it is not possible to discern that piece of land, it is an area immediately beside or around the building no larger than the floor space of the building.
If the cumulative floor space of buildings on the agricultural unit as it was on 3rd July 2012 that “have changed use” under this permission does not exceed 150 square metres, you must before exercising the permission or the flexibility inform your local planning authority of the nature of the new use and the date that it will begin and send them a plan “indicating the site and which buildings have changed use.” The use of the past tense in the quotations from the amendment in inverted commas suggests that the duty does not arise until after 150 square metres has already changed use under the permission but this is clearly not the intention and should not be relied upon without specific advice as to the risks.
If the cumulative floor space of buildings on the agricultural unit as it was on 3rd July 2012 that has changed use under this permission exceeds 150 square metres, you must apply to the local planning authority before making the change of use for a determination as to whether their prior approval will be required as to contamination and flooding risks on the site and transport, highway and noise impacts. Again, the dangerously confusing past tense appears. The application must be accompanied by a description of the change of use, a plan showing the site, your contact address and any fee that may be payable. The authority may require you to give further information about the risks and impacts. The authority is required to consult specified relevant bodies, display a site notice and notify adjoining owners or occupiers. The change of use cannot take place until the planning authority gives written notice either that they give their approval or that their approval is not required. However, if 56 days pass after their receipt of the application without the authority notifying you whether their approval is given or refused, the change of use can take place without it.
These notes are for general information only. They do not cover every aspect of the subject. They do not cover all of the other subjects that may bear on the decision to act. Professional advice should be taken in every case. La Ronde Wright Ltd does not give any warranty for reliance upon these notes. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how this advice affects you.
© La Ronde Wright Ltd