This year; 2018, marks 10 years since the end of the Financial Crisis. During this time of recession, an important change was made to planning legislation for buildings. This was the extension of Permitted Development rights, which allowed certain building works and changes to be implemented without the need for a planning application. Since this extension of the policy a decade ago, it is continually relevant today, particularly due to the current housing crisis.


Why Permitted Development was extended:

  • The policy was extended in 2008 by the coalition government after the recession as a means to stimulate growth.
  • This was in response to the economic situation, and served to cover a range of residential alterations and conversions, allowing businesses and developers to develop existing properties more freely.
  • It was hoped that this would result in an increase in developments being built, for example, converting a former office building to residential use.


To ensure proposed works conform to the legislation, Mark Fairhurst Architects recommends Certificate of Lawfulness Applications are successfully made for domestic projects prior to commencing the construction. Additionally, Prior Approval Applications are required for change of use commercial projects before commencing work on site to ensure applications comply with transport and servicing issues.


With Permitted Development, there is no need to work to normal space standards, therefore this allows the creation of smaller studios and hence more affordable units not normally allowed under national space standards. There is also no requirement for social housing provision therefore simplifying the economic viability process for the developer. Yet the developer does still need to comply with usual building regulations and other statutory requirements.


Local councils can prevent the erosion of their commercial property by issuing an exemption to the Permitted Development rights with an Article 4 direction thereby protecting existing commercial uses. Permitted Development applications can be restricted in conservation areas and are not used for listed buildings and other protected situations. Further alterations to existing buildings or extensions that fall outside the Permitted Development guidelines will need to be dealt with under regular planning applications.


Here are two examples of our recent commercial projects that have used permitted development:



The Grove, Slough

Prior Approval Permission to convert an existing office building in the centre of Slough to 22 affordable studio flats. This is the external view before conversion.


The Grove, Slough

This picture demonstrates the internal view during strip out.




Barking Road, Canning Town

This project required Prior Approval Permission to convert existing offices into 5 residential units. Pictured is the external view before conversion.



Details of the types of buildings that do not require planning permission can be seen on the government’s Planning Portal website: