Planning Revisions

Published 20 Jun 2016


Stuart Mitchell

Holloway Iliffe & Mitchell Director Stuart Mitchell reviews recent legislation updates…

The Court of Appeal upholds 2014 changes to national planning practice guidance (NPPG).

In November 2014, NPPG introduced a ruling that developments of 10 homes or less (in some designated areas this was reduced to five) did not have to provide affordable housing contributions through S106 agreements. The rationale behind this policy decision was to assist ‘SME’ builders and developers with small housing developments.

In 2015 West Berkshire District and Reading Borough Councils joined forces to challenge this guidance and won their case in the High Court in July 2015. Within months the Department for Communities and Local Government sought to appeal the ruling. On 11 May, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s decision and the guidance was reinstated on 19 May.

Once again smaller builders and developers are uncertain about where they stand. Having ignored the original guidance, some councils will have to consider whether they must now adhere to the reinstated policy in order to avoid potential costs.

Permitted Development continues with further restrictions to be lifted from 2017

Permitted development for office conversion to residential accommodation which was due to terminate on 31 May 2016 will continue for the foreseeable future with further restrictions being lifted over the next three years.

New conversions for which prior approval is granted will still have to be completed within three years from the date of approval and those areas that fell outside the existing ruling will have the permitted development restriction removed, albeit not until May 2019.  However, noise from existing commercial premises from which residents of the conversion may be affected must be considered as part of the approval application process.

Ahead of the lifting of office development restrictions in 2019, additional classes of permitted development including launderettes and light industrial buildings (Class B1 (C)) have been added with effect from October 2017.


Widely anticipated this year was the provision for demolition and redevelopment. Had this been introduced it would have enabled offices of an unusual construction or layout to be replaced with flats or houses. We’ll have a wait a little longer for this restriction to be lifted.