Embracing change

An inspector has embraced the impending changes to the planning system in a recent appeal decision (DCS Number 400-027-274). This appeal related to the refusal of planning permission for the change of use of a retail unit in a Devon primary shopping frontage to a restaurant.

The inspector firstly established that the proposal was contrary to the development plan. He then went on to consider material considerations, finding that the proposal would make use of an under-utilised unit, stimulate an evening economy, create some employment and add activity to the site’s frontage and the street. And here’s where the forthcoming changes bear on the decision:

“On 1 September 2020, the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 will come into force, amending the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. At that point, the current A1 retail and A3 cafes/restaurants uses will fall under a new use class, Class E. Given that the Use Classes Order provides for changes of use within a single use class as not being taken to involve development, a change from retail to a restaurant will therefore soon no longer require planning permission. Consequently, although the Regulations are yet to come into force and were not pertinent at the time of the Council’s determination of the planning application, they are a material consideration given that the proposed change of use at the appeal site will soon not require planning permission.”

The inspector placed significant weight on the local plan but concluded that the material considerations outweighed the conflict, indicating that permission should be granted.

Background to the evolution of the Use Classes Order is given at section 4.3312 of DCP Online.