Successful change of use from office (Class E) to residential in North Somerset

Planning permission secured for a change of use from office (Class E) to residential dwelling following a detailed analysis of the LPAs validation requirements and their five year housing land supply position. 

The planning context

Our client had secured planning permission to create 3x 1 bed flats and an office space back in 2017.  The flats were fully occupied.  The office space had been built out according to the historic planning permission, but had never been successfully let and remained a shell.  Understandably, given the lack of interest in the unit as office space, despite its central location and proximity to transport hubs and services, our client decided to change the use to residential.  

Initially submitting an application for prior approval via the Class MA route and then submitting an application for planning approval for the change of use, both applications were withdrawn at the request of the LPA. A key issue related to the validation team’s insistence that an Economic Statement was required.  It was at this point that we were contacted to assist to help move the project forward. 

A note on Class MA, Use Class E to residential

Whilst undeniably useful, Class MA of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) enables the change of use of Class E (commercial, business and service) to create a dwelling / residential unit (Class C3), it is also subject to limitations and conditions.  You can read more about these conditions and restrictions

The particulars of this site, its location within Flood Zone 3a and in proximity to a Listed Building meant that it would not benefit from permitted development rights and that full planning permission would be required to secure the change of use. 

Turning two withdrawn applications into full planning approval

The application sought the change of use of a ground floor office unit to residential – creating a 1x bed flat and associated works to include minor internal alterations, rear access ramp and bin stores. 

We assisted our client with a full planning application, collating a project team to ensure the necessary site designations were mitigated effectively. We provided an Economic Statement in response to the validation requirement.  However, we also queried the need for the ES as the unit had never been successfully let as an office, was not in a designated employment area and, following analysis of local policy, identified that policy was seeking to protect a use class that no longer existed. Furthermore our planning statement presented a strong fallback position in regards to Class E. We also noted that the Council could not demonstrate a five-year housing land supply of deliverable sites and that this type of accommodation responded to local need, presenting several useful precedents to support the application. 

As the proposed conversion would make good use of an otherwise defunct office space; was entirely fitting with the wider context; would exceed space standards; have no impact on neighbouring amenity; would provide pleasant private amenity space; and following our analysis of the balance of properties in the area, would not cause unacceptable change; we are delighted that the LPA approved the application without delay. 

About us

We are Plainview Planning – a solutions orientated, experienced and knowledgeable team of planning consultants.  If you need professional and informed planning support with your development project, then contact our team via, to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.