A light touch approach

The change of use of a B1(c) light industrial building in southeast London used for the manufacture of event sets to C3 residential under Schedule 2, Part 3, Class PA of the GPDO has been deemed to be permitted development by an inspector notwithstanding intervening uses since the relevant date (DCS Number 200-009-116).

The inspector recorded that development is not permitted under PA.1.(b) of the GPDO if the building was not used solely for a light industrial use on 19 March 2014 or, in the case of a building which was in use before that date but was not in use on that date, when it was last in use. His reading of the GPDO was that the right does not depend on an ongoing light industrial operation at the time of the prior approval application, provided the lawful use of the building stood and there had been no intervening change to this. He considered that the latter should be assessed in respect of matters of fact and degree. He noted that only very superficial internal changes had taken place since the appellant had acquired the vacated premises in 2016, and there had recently been a temporary use when the building had hosted a ‘pop up’ art gallery. The building was also being put to use for the garaging of a number of models of classic car. These did not establish a material change in use of the building, he ruled.

After reviewing the evidence the inspector found that, on the balance of probability, the appeal property had been shown to have been used solely for a light industrial Class B1(c) use on or before 19th March 2014 and no other use had subsequently become established. Therefore, the building would benefit from the permitted development right sought, subject to satisfying the conditions in paragraph PA.2. Of these it was only PA.2.(1)(b)(iv) that was in contention between the parties. On this, he was of the view that residential use would not have an adverse impact on the provision of industrial or storage and distribution services in the area subject to conditions relating to noise, air quality and odour which would ensure satisfactory living conditions.

In reaching his conclusion the inspector remarked that he had taken into account that the permitted development right assumes the principle of the proposal is acceptable and that, in this context, the prior approval process applies a lighter touch than were express planning permission to be required. He also had regard to the fact that, whilst the appeal site was within and surrounded by employment uses, it amounted to a small proportion of the industrial area.

The legislation relating to Part 3 Class PA can be found at section 4.3423 of DCP Online.