Change of use planning applications can be challenging, especially when you are seeking a change of use in an area where certain use classes are protected.
Our recent approval for a change of use from an office to a specialist Ear Clinic in the London Borough of Camden provides a useful example of the complexities of securing planning permission in city central locations.
The project background
Our client needed extra clinic space to service the increasing demand for appointments. Having identified a suitable site, they found it subject to several conditions which would need to be negotiated to secure the necessary planning consent. To add to the complexity of the project, our client had already commenced the use of the site as a clinic, having only been made aware of the need to regularise the planning situation after they had expanded their business operations.
We were instructed to assist after our client had read about similar projects we have been involved in previously, securing several change of use applications for reputable healthcare providers across London (see here).
Making the case for a change of use
Typically, many central London sites will have a multitude of planning designations. This means that there can be several site-specific and area-specific policies on top of the more generic planning policies that need to be met to comply with planning rules and regulations.
In this case, the attractiveness of the site to the Clinic was its central location and transport connections, but often such sites are protected for a specific use which makes a change of use more challenging.
When preparing a change of use application, a key argument is justifying to the Council the proposed loss of one use in favour of another. The extent of the changes you are making to a premises is also important, especially if the building is listed or falls within a Conservation Area.
In this instance we produced a comprehensive retrospective application which demonstrated how the clinic would be compliant with the local planning policies and why the proposed use should be supported.
We engaged proactively with the council, negotiating successfully to find pragmatic ways to move the project forward. This included:
+ proposing a “dual use” to assuage any Council concerns;
+ evidencing the sustainability of the proposed use and the need for the Ear Clinic;
+ the provision of detailed analysis of the site context and mix of uses locally;
+ presentation of the economic and social benefits of the scheme;
+ analysis of how the scheme would comply with both local and national policies.
We presented a robust planning argument in favour of the change of us and addressed any Council concerns swiftly. The approval came as a huge relief to our client as the clinic was already operational and we are so glad that our client approached us to help regularise the planning position regarding the use of their site, rather than wait for enforcement action to take place.
We are delighted that we achieved planning consent for a specialist Ear Clinic which provides a valuable health service for individuals and is a prime example of how our company can help the expansion of local enterprises.
We are well versed at a wide range of change of use applications from medical centres to cookery schools, yoga studios to nurseries and we are well poised to assist you with your business start-up or expansion needs. Contact the team today via firstname.lastname@example.org to understand more about how we can assist you with your change of use application.