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Possible planning changes for the retail sector

Print publication

08/09/2014

Background

On 31 July 2014 the Government published a technical consultation on further proposals for reform of the planning process (the Consultation).

The Consultation seeks views on a range of proposals which the Government considers will improve the planning system. The Consultation includes proposals to:

  • ease the neighbourhood planning regime
  • expand permitted development rights, including for the creation of homes in buildings currently used for light industry, warehousing, launderettes, casinos, nightclubs etc
  • improve the use of planning conditions and ensure developments can proceed more quickly after a grant of permission
  • streamline the seeking of views from statutory consultees
  • the screening thresholds for environmental impact assessments and
  • change the existing criteria for determining nationally significant infrastructure projects.

The Consultation was officially launched with publication of the formal 100-page document at the end of July 2014. A press release was issued by the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) in early August.

As part of this, Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis stated: “Today’s proposals will help scrap even more red tape and make it easier to get the homes and shops communities want built, while at the same time breathing new life into our vital industries”.

Expanded Facilities for Existing Retailers

Proposal H of the Consultation details proposals to enable existing retailers to expand facilities without facing undue planning obstacles or delays. The objectives of the proposals are to:

  • help retailers improve their retail offer
  • facilitate and aid the move in purchasing behaviour towards online shopping, via adaption of existing premises for more effective distribution of online purchases and
  • attract consumers back to stores (particularly on the high street)/retailers that already have a physical presence.

Proposal H suggests changes in the following areas:

  • permitted development rights for ancillary buildings within existing shop’s curtilage (1)
  • increased back-of-house loading bay capacity (2)
  • allowance for internal mezzanine floors (3) and
  • parking standards (4).

Permitted development rights for an ancillary building within the curtilage of an existing shop (1) – the Government intends to build on existing permitted development rights, to allow for the erection of small, ancillary buildings to facilitate ‘click and collect’ (C+C) services.

It is proposed that:

  • shops can erect ancillary buildings within existing premises’ curtilage, including the car park;these ancillary buildings can:

not exceed four metres in height
have a cumulative gross floor space of up to 20 square metres and
not be erected within two metres of a boundary of the shop’s curtilage

  • where the building is erected between the shop front and a highway, the distance from the new building to the boundary must be more than five metres
  • prior approval will be required to consider the design, siting and external appearance of any new structure and
  • the permitted development will not be allowed on / in the following areas or types of structures:

– Article 1(5) land (that is, within a National Park, the Broads, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (an AONB), a conservation area, or land within World Heritage sites)
– listed buildings and buildings within the curtilage
– scheduled monuments and land within the curtilage and
– Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Increased back-of-house loading bay capacity (2) – it is intended that retailers will be able to increase their back-of-house loading bay capacity, to enable storage of more goods for home delivery and C+C.

It is proposed:

  • to allow the installation of new loading bay doors and new loading ramps in existing shops without permission
  • existing loading bays will be able to be increased by up to 20% and
  • that the permitted development will not be allowed on / in the following areas or types of structures:

– Article 1(5) land (that is, within a National Park, the Broads, AONBs, a conservation area, or land within World Heritage sites)
– listed buildings and buildings within the curtilage
– scheduled monuments and land within the curtilage and
– SSSIs.

Mezzanine floors (3) – Existing regulations allow most retailers to build an internal mezzanine floor in their premises up to 200 square metres, without the need for a planning application. The proposal is to increase this limit, with views being invited as to what size would be appropriate.

Maximum parking standards (4) – The Government is here aiming to build on its previous changes. The consultation asks for views on whether:

  • local authorities are, via their approach, now stopping builders from providing sufficient parking spaces to meet market demand and
  • local authorities’ powers to set maximum parking standards should be restricted.

Extensions to Business Premises

Proposal K looks to make permanent the new permitted development rights for business, which were initially introduced for a three-year period in May 2013. The deadline for such extensions using these rights (formerly May 2016) will therefore now be removed, if the consultation outcome is favourable.

The new permitted development rights allow:

  • shops (A1) and financial / professional services (A2) to extend their premises by up to 100 square metres, provided the gross floor space is not increased by more than 50%
  • build up to the boundary, unless that boundary is with a dwelling house – where a two metre gap is required
  • offices (B1(a)) to extend their premises by 100 square metres, provided the gross floor space is not increased by more than 50%
  • the building of new industrial or warehouse buildings of up to 200 square metres within the curtilage of an existing industrial or warehouse building and
  • the increase of the gross floor space of existing industrial or warehouse buildings by up to 50%.

Such permitted development will still not be permitted:

  • in Article 1(5) land (that is, within a National Park, the Broads, an AONB, a conservation area, or land within World Heritage sites) or
  • on / in the following areas or types of structures – listed buildings and buildings within the curtilage; scheduled monuments and land within the curtilage and SSSIs.

Additional

It is important to be aware that the aforementioned changes will not remove the requirement for all applicants to comply with other relevant planning, building and environmental legislation / regulations.

The Government has invited responses on whether its view of the costs and / or benefits likely to arise from the proposed changes and permitted development rights (as outlined in sections 2 and 3 above) are correct.

In addition, there is a proposal for certain fees to be introduced as follows:

  • for change of use only (with a prior approval being required): £80
  • for change of use and allowing for some physical development (with a prior approval required): £172; and
  • for prior approval to carry out physical development – including for the erection of a structure in a retail car park or the installation of solar panels on commercial buildings: £80.

Responding to the Consultation

The Consultation is open to the public, so anyone with an interest in the proposals may respond. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday 26 September 2014. While responses should ideally be submitted online, alternative methods of making submissions are via email to planning.consultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk or post to the Planning Consultation Team at DCLG.

When responding, consultees must indicate whether they are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation. Responses should include the respondent’s name, position and name of organisation (if applicable), address (including postcode), email address, and contact telephone number.

Following close of the Consultation, the Planning Consultation Team are to consider the responses received. It is expected that a summary report will be published on DCLG’s website within three months of the closing date.

Contacts