Keeping it simple?

The change of use of a building in Oxfordshire from B1 office use to nine flats under Schedule 2, Part 3, Class O of the GPDO has been allowed notwithstanding that operational development was required to implement the change of use (DCS Number 200-007-297).

The inspector acknowledged that whilst the GPDO makes provision for some operational development as part of the change of some uses to residential, Class O does not. The council took the view that the proposal was not eligible for consideration under the prior approval process and thus could not be considered as permitted development since the required operational development, which included alterations to existing windows and the provision of new ones, was inherent to the change of use. The appellant, on the other hand, whilst acknowledging that some operational development was required, argued that there are no provisions, limitations or conditions within Class O which state that consideration of a change of use in principle cannot be considered.

The inspector recorded that the Planning Practice Guidance recognises that some permitted development rights for change of use allow for limited physical works to carry out the change. However, it also sets out that developers should ensure they have planning permission if necessary. With this in mind he held that an application for a change of use under Class O should not be disqualified on the basis that some operational development is required. Accordingly, he decided that it was reasonable to consider the change of use of the appeal property from office to residential under this legislation. Any approval granted would simply mean that the appellant would need to secure planning permission for the operational development required to fully implement the change of use, he reasoned.

He concluded that the proposed change of use constituted permitted development under the provisions of Class O, albeit that some operational development, which would require separate planning permission, would be required to implement it.  

All of which sets us wondering whether it isn’t time to simplify the simplified planning system.

Changes of use under Part 3 permitted development are covered at section 4.3423 of DCP Online.