Make your voice heard: consultation on latest planning reforms for high street uses and upward resi developments

high street

Included within last Monday’s Autumn Budget was the announcement that The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has launched a consultation on a package of planning reforms.

Titled Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes the consultation paper will run from the 29th October 2018 to the 14th January 2019 and seeks views on a package of measures aimed at making best use of land and speeding up the delivery of new homes.

What is the relevance of this latest planning consultation?

The government recognises that the way we use our high streets is changing and that more flexibility and certainty in planning is needed to allow the high street to respond. The resultant consultation is therefore asking for considered responses to the proposed planning reforms and the questions posed are requesting a wide range of detail.

Crucially this consultation represents a prime opportunity to get involved and have your say on a number of planning reforms in their infancy. You can potentially play a pivotal role in the evolution of these reforms and how they will take effect.

The key to ensuring your views make an impact is through the preparation of scrupulously considered and well presented strategic representations, something which the team at Plainview Planning specialise in.  

Who is the consultation aimed at?

The consultation is open to everyone. Having reviewed the package of proposed reforms, Part 1 of the proposals is of most relevance to our developer and commercial clients and considers, amongst other matters:

  • how to ensure flexibility in the high street;
  • how best to harness changes of use to preserve the vitality of these spaces;
  • ways to enable effective use of land to support the high street, including new permitted development rights (PDR) on upward extensions to create additional new homes.

A precis of these particular proposals is outlined below.

Calling high street occupiers and owners – feedback sought on change of use reforms

New and amended PDR’s are being proposed to allow current high street units (A1,A2, and A3) to change to a wider range of uses, crucially allowing more leisure and community uses such as gyms, health care, libraries and also new homes.

These will be subject to the Prior Approval process and MHCLG are consulting on:

  • the benefit of new PDRs to allow change of use from (A1,A2,A5) to (B1), and (A5) to (C3);
  • what specific matters should be considered at the prior approval stage;
  • widening the scope for temporary uses on the high street to include community uses, and whether to extend the length of such temporary use from 2 to 3 years;
  • What type of community uses should be allowed under a temporary change of use;
  • how to ensure the Use Classes order remains current for the modern high street, for example enabling broader definitions of the A1 use class to help it to accommodate current and future shopping preferences.  

In essence, these latest consultation measures are proposing to broaden PD rights. But they are also seeking feedback on how best to regularise these measures through the prior approval process.

If you are a prospective tenant, owner of a high street premises, commercial or residential developer then this consultation provides a prime opportunity to help guide the scope of the proposals, seek to widen the ‘list’ of alternative uses for the high street and to influence the restrictions that apply.

Upward Extensions to create new homes – what is your view?

Responses are also being sought on proposing a new PD right to allow development above existing buildings to promote new homes. This will bring particular benefits to town centres but also more widely where opportunities exist for well designed builds in the airspace above buildings. It is important to note that:

  • such schemes will be subject to prior approval and proposals to extend upwards to create residential units will only be allowed above certain types of building in certain areas;
  • the consultation is seeking opinions on where this might apply, how this might work and what restrictions should apply;
  • it is proposed that these upward extensions will be subject to the prior approval process, and importantly it is the specifics of the prior approval process which is also being consulted on.

Once again, relevant responses are being sought on all aspects, from height limits to whether there are other types of premises that upward extensions should be allowed on, such as community use or leisure buildings, or even out of town retail parks.

These proposals are at an early stage in their evolution and a carefully constructed response could have a long term impact on planning for well designed higher density development to create positive communities and desirable areas to live.

Making strategic representations – how we can help

This consultation will run until the 14th January 2019. It is clear that elements of these proposals are in their infancy and this represents a prime opportunity to influence the evolution of these suggested planning reforms and to potentially have a long term impact on the planning process for these types of development.

The team at Plainview Planning are experienced at making insightful, meticulous and strategic representations to ensure the views of our clients are heard.  If you want help in formulating a relevant response to this consultation then contact the team at Plainview Planning to see how we can best assist via

INFORMATION SOURCE: Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, October 2018.

IMAGE SOURCE: Photo by Kirsten Drew on Unsplash