The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have opened a consultation seeking views on proposals relating to permitted development rights titled “Consultation on additional flexibilities to support housing delivery, the agricultural sector, businesses, high streets and open prisons; and a call for evidence on nature-based solutions, farm efficiency projects and diversification”.
This article explores this consultation in the context of potential diversification opportunities to leisure and tourism uses if the Government’s proposals to change permitted development rights come to fruition.
The Government have suggested that they want to “further support the rural economy by providing greater flexibilities around the change of use of existing buildings to commercial uses”. Some of the proposed changes are relevant to using potential expanded or new permitted development rights for leisure and tourism uses.
There is a proposal to change the existing “agricultural diversification” right under Class R of Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 to support the change of use of more types of agricultural buildings to “flexible commercial uses” which currently includes change of use to a flexible use for storage or distribution, hotels or those uses under the broad Class E. The right could be expanded to include buildings in a forestry, equestrian or “another predominately rural use”.
There is a further proposal to expand the change of use to a flexible use to include uses for “outdoor sports, recreation or fitness uses to be undertaken” or (for the processing of raw goods produced on the site to be sold on the site) general industrial (B2) use to allow people “to go further than the uses Use Class E allows”.
A further proposal is to amend the right to allow for a mix of the permitted uses on a site, such as to allow a hotel and a farm shop to be permitted under the right to exist at the same time.
In addition, the right could be expanded to allow for 1,000 square metres of floorspace to change use, doubling the current limit.
Other proposals include allowing markets to temporarily operate for up to 28 days per calendar year, rather than the currently permitted 14 days, and doubling the floor space in which extensions or alterations of commercial, business and service establishments can operate.
The Government are also seeking views on the role permitted development rights may have for “nature-based solutions, farm efficiency projects and diversification” including for projects seeking to “use, manage, change or restore an area of land to address environmental issues, such as nutrient pollution, flooding, plant pest or disease impacts, climate change or biodiversity loss”.
The Government’s proposals could potentially lead to significant widening of permitted development rights and facilitate potential diversification opportunities to leisure and tourism uses. This could be by allowing those wishing to pursue such uses to avoid the need for a planning application or by creating a “fallback” position which could be a relevant material consideration in the determination of a planning application for such uses which may otherwise be unacceptable.
However, the extent to which any changes that are taken forward may be useful will depend on the precise wording of the permitted development rights themselves and associated limitations on their use. We are monitoring the Government’s next steps in this area with interest.
The consultation closed on 25 September 2023 but we await the Government response and any changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
Howes Percival has a dedicated Leisure and Tourism team who have been advising clients in the leisure and tourism industry for over 25 years. Howes Percival’s team includes solicitors specialising in regulatory, property, employment, licensing, intellectual property and commercial law so can provide a full service to operators of licenced premises so are well equipped to advise operators of licenced premises on any legal issues they have.
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