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Permitted development rights (PDRs) are a list of alterations that are acceptable to a domestic or commercial property without the need to apply for planning permission.

From the 5th March 2024, legislation governing the PDRs will change. This will affect the change of use from Class E to Residential (Class C3) use.


In September 2020, The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 amended the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 and introduced significant changes to the system of 'use classes'. The main change introduced a new Class E which encompassed commercial, business and service, as opposed to the old Classes A, B1, and D1.

The changes were aimed at providing flexibility for developers in England to repurpose property at a time when town centres and high streets felt the squeeze of covid-19 along with changing buyer habits. The new Class E allowed for a mix of uses to reflect the changing retail requirements. The changes allowed a building to be used flexibly by having a number of uses taking place concurrently.

Soon after the introduction of Class E, the government’s efforts to simplify the planning processes to assist in the creation of new homes continued in 2021, and the creation of use Class MA of the General Permitted Development Order was born. Class MA allows most Class E properties to be converted into residential properties subject to limitations.

Class MA changes from 5th March 2024:

For any application submitted on or after the 5th March 2024, the legislation controlling the use of this PDRs will be adjusted in two ways:

  1. The limitation requiring the building to be vacant for a period of at least 3 months will be removed; and
  2. The floorspace limit (of up to 1,500 sqm) for the existing building changing use will be removed completely.

By changing the upper floorspace limit and removing the requirement for 3 months’ vacancy, this will potentially increase the number of buildings where this permitted right could be used and partly converted buildings could now be fully converted to residential.

The other aspects of the legislation which control the potential use of PDRs are unaffected. The key aspects include:

  • The requirement to gain prior approval to use the PDRs.
  • The requirement for the building to have been in Class E for a period of at least 2 years continuously.
  • The exemption for listed buildings, World Heritage Sites, sites of natural beauty, National Parks, among others.

If you would like any further information or guidance on these changes and how they might impact your development proposals, please do not hesitate to contact any of the specialists in our commercial property team by calling 01484 821500, or you can complete an online enquiry form.

The above article is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any part of the information given.