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New Permitted Development Right to demolish a building built before 1990 and rebuild it for housing.

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By DAC Beachcroft


Published 23 July 2020


The aim of the new right is to support regeneration through the residential redevelopment of vacant and redundant buildings that no longer effectively serve their original purpose, support housing delivery and boost housing density.

On 30 June 2020 a No 10 Downing Street press release stated that “builders will no longer need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes”.

This means that planning permission will not be required and planning obligations by way of Section 106 Agreements will also not be required.

From 31 August 2020 this new right will apply to vacant and redundant free-standing buildings that fell within the following use classes on 12 March 2020:

  • B1(a) offices,
  • B1 (b) research and development,
  • B1 (c) industrial processes (light industrial), and
  • free-standing purpose-built residential blocks of flats (C3).

The building must have been built before 1 January 1990 and have been entirely vacant for at least six full months prior to the date of the application for prior approval.

The right allows for redevelopment of a single new building within the footprint of buildings with a footprint of up to 1,000 sq m, and with a maximum height of 18 metres. The demolition or the replacement build of buildings with a footprint greater than 1,000 sq m is not permitted. The right does not apply to part of a building, nor does it allow for the demolition of more than one building within the curtilage and the incorporation of any additional footprint.

Issues that require prior approval from the local planning authority are:

  • the transport and highways impacts of the development;
  • contamination and flooding risks;
  • the impact of noise from other premises on the future residents;
  • design and external appearance of the new building;
  • the adequacy of natural light in all habitable rooms of each new dwelling;
  • the impact of the introduction of residential use into an area; and
  • the impact of the development on the amenity of the new building and of neighbouring premises, including overlooking, privacy and light.

Prior approval must be provided in 8 weeks and there is an appeal provision if this time frame is not complied with.

The right will not apply to land in National Parks, Conservation Areas, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or World Heritage Sites. The right also does not apply if the building is a listed building or scheduled monument, or if the land on which the building is sited is within the curtilage of a listed building or scheduled monument. There are also safeguards for safety hazard areas and military explosive storage areas.

There are an additional number of technical requirements including the preparation of plans and impact assessments which will mean the level of detail required will be similar to a planning application. However, it will provide greater certainty for developers and lower costs than a planning application with as associated planning obligations.