Well, the simple answer is: not always.
As of 2017, there has been the option to convert certain types of light industrial properties to residential use; full planning permission is not necessarily needed.
This is all possible under the auspices of Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) which are granted, not by local authorities, but by Parliament. There are of course certain conditions; the “use of class” of the light industrial property will determine whether you can take advantage of PDR or not.
In this article, you will learn amazing strategies to how to use our formula to make a Prior Approval application to regularise your Change of Use from Light Industrial (B1(c)) to residential (C3) use. You will learn how to retrofit existing light industrial units, renovate the workshops and warehouses or design and build new homes on industrial sites. You will also learn the key steps to converting light industrial into residential through good design and how to do it with certainty.
Here’s the deal:
Permitted Development Rights is a scheme put in place by the government to allow certain types of change of uses to be carried out without the need to apply for planning permission, and one of them being change of use from light industrial to residential. This makes the whole planning process much more simple and straightforward; however, there are certain aspects that still have to be taken into considerations. Not every industrial space can be converted into housing, and this is a particularly hot topic at the moment – more at the end of the article!
As of the 1st October 2017 a new development right came into use allowing the conversion of light industrial units to residential use without planning permission – note that the change of class falls under this and not, for example, an extension. This right (known technically as Class PA) allows for the change of use of a building and/or any associated land under Class B1(c) (Light Industrial) – to Class C3 (dwellinghouses). There are, of course, important conditions:
And there are, naturally, exceptions to the Permitted Development Rule if:
Well, the first thing to say is that there are more than a few of these, and each of these requires careful consideration. Most importantly, your application for prior approval needs to be made before the 1st of October 2020 as this right is actually a temporary one; you’ll need prior approval for issues around the following:
The PDR only covers the change of use – external alterations are a different kettle of fish altogether requiring different permissions.
Remember: Whether it is cladding, doors or new windows, anything that changes the external façade will have to go through the planning process as normal.
You’ll have to make your Prior Approval application to your Local Planning Authority (LPA) and it can be refused on the grounds listed previously in this article, so make sure your application takes in these considerations.
You will also have to consider the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL, 2010) which will be relevant when looking to develop one or more dwellings. The good news, however, is that if the existing floor space has been in continuous use (and lawful use) for six months out of the previous three years prior to the development being permitted, the Community Infrastructure Levy can be discounted.
There are a number of different pieces of information and evidence that you need to submit as part of the Prior Approval application process. The more information you can include the better and, as always, it’s important to be upfront and transparent about your application. That said, here is a list of the absolute musts that you must submit:
There is a set process that the relevant Local Planning Authority will carry out based on the various submissions that we have detailed earlier in this article. It includes:
It’s also worth knowing that the LPA has a 56-day window to assess your application; if this time period elapses without the LPA providing you with a full and considered response (or without a mutually agreed extension) then it is possible for you to move ahead with your development.
An Article 4 direction essentially removes the ‘automatic’ planning permission mentioned earlier in this article – so you have to apply for planning permission for your development in these areas. This direction can be issued to individual developments or LPAs can issue it for their entire administrative area.
A number of Councils have issued Article 4 directions across their whole administrative areas, and many more have done so – at least partially.
In London, Waltham Forest and Hackney have their entire boroughs covered by Article 4 and Brent, Hounslow, Camden, Merton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Islington, Southwark and Hillingdon all have, or are in the process of securing, directions for specifying areas in their respective boroughs. These areas are all considered significant areas of industrial use and importance.
Away from the capital, the towns of St Albans, Crawley and Stevenage are expected to follow suit, and within planning circles we expect more local authorities along the length and breadth of the country to adopt similar measures in specific areas or even borough-wide.
Clearly, this article makes applying this new right to convert less straightforward than developers had hoped. However, it also ensures that important industrial stock is not lost or given up too easily, and that existing light industrial businesses are not eroded by encroaching residential development.
Given the decline of heavy industry in the UK and the growth of smaller-scale industrial businesses, It’s clear that integrating homes and places of work better in our cities is of great benefit in terms of local and national growth. Locating light industrial properties and residential dwellings together can be a great way to create employment whilst preserving our industrial tradition and encouraging innovation.
There is certainly demand for more homes, but there also is for workspaces, and both of these situations come up against a backdrop of depleted brownfield land stocks. Encouraging economic sustainability requires new ways of thinking and, arguably, one of them is integrating residential properties and workspaces into the urban fabric – as is often the case in mainland Europe.
In our opinion, local authorities are too quick to protect industrial land as it often provides employment for skilled manual workers, but we wonder what would happen if this land gave these workers the opportunity to live closer to their work? More disposable income and better quality of life then become a distinct possibility.
We really need to be breaking away from stereotypes around industry being dirty, noisy and something which needs to be kept out of sight. Recent innovations in noise-cancelling technology and clean emissions regulations mean that there is far more potential for coexistence than there has ever been.
The truth of the matter is that light industry supports jobs both directly and indirectly across a broad spectrum of roles and professions. There are the jobs directly involved in the businesses themselves, and then those created further down the supply chain and in things like professional services. Within cities, having industries and residential spaces located close to one another increases opportunities for these businesses to recruit and optimise their workforces and provide better living standards for the workers themselves.
Well, as outlined above, we know the regulations and processes inside out; it’s our bread and butter and we can do all of the regulatory heavy lifting, so you can focus on what’s important to you in your development.
We work collaboratively with local planners to get the best outcome for you. Wherever we’ve worked we’ve forged constructive relationships, and we can use this mutual respect and trust to get the best possible outcome for you.
In addition, when it comes to developing smart layouts and designs that really deliver bang for your buck, we’re second to none, and our track record in this respect is something that we are extremely proud of.
Your return on investment is clearly something that matters a great deal; nobody is in the development game for purely altruistic gain. We always keep this in mind at every stage of the development process and ensure that you obtain the maximum ROI possible.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we make lasting relationships with our clients and we pride ourselves on the level of repeat business that we get. We’ve dealt with numerous clients multiple times because, firstly, we deliver, and secondly, we go about it in the right way. We measure our success based on the lasting relationships that we have with our clients, not short-term gain from one-off projects.
If you have a light industrial property that you want to convert into homes, you can get the advice you need and make the process simpler, easier and quicker if you have a team of experts to assist you through the Prior Approval process. We want to make sure you are getting the most out of your property while providing the sustainable mix of uses a thriving city needs!
If you have any questions about Change of Use from Light Industrial to Residential in London, call us on 0203 793 78 78. We’d be happy to help.