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How can permitted development rights be used in commercial leases?

View profile for Patsy Whitford
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How can permitted development rights be used in commercial leases?

Due to the changes to normal working requirements and the potential reduction in the need for traditional office space, could you use permitted development rights to develop your property or change the use to facilitate a different type of business or housing?

Commercial Property Solicitor Patsy Whitford looks at permitted development rights, describing what they are, what they can be used for and the potential issues one may run into.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights allow certain changes to take place without requiring a full planning permission to be obtained.  You will still need to apply for prior approval, but this should be an easier and quicker method, than a traditional planning application.

What is the purpose of permitted development?

Having permitted development rights means that changes from, for example, a retail shop to restaurant can be much easier, so your property can easily appeal to a wider range of tenants, looking to do something other than the previous use of the property. 

This is hugely beneficial in today’s marketplace, when tenants are looking for more flexibility. These changes can also relate to office use being changed to residential, which means an underused office can prove to be very valuable when converted. 

What restrictions are there on permitted development?

Permitted development is not a free for all as there are still restrictions and criteria to be met.

Local authorities can also remove permitted development rights, so always check with your local council prior to starting a project and even if the change of use is permitted, any works needed to alter the property for the new use, may still require a full planning permission and/or building regulations. 

How can permitted development rights be used?

Permitted development rights can also be used to extend existing purpose-built flats. This is intended to ease the development process and so stimulate the economy, especially post COVID. 

This has been used to great advantage to add two additional floors to existing flats, but again there are restrictions on this, so check with your local council before proceeding.

How can restrictions within a lease can affect permitted development rights?

The other, less commonly considered, issue that arises in adding floors to flats is checking that the existing leases do not prevent or restrict this.  For example, if your tenants have rights to the roof space, or have skylights, this could prevent you from building further floors.  You will also need to consult with your tenants, and you may need to vary their leases. 

You should always consider whether the existing leases will hamper your intended development, and it is worth doing this prior to incurring the time and expense of applying for prior approval, so please contact us as we can advise you on the terms of the lease.

Commercial Property Solicitors

If you have any queries following this article, please get in touch with our bright Commercial Property team for expert advice.

We offer a free initial appointment to all new clients. To get in touch with our bright solicitors in Christchurch and Ringwood, simply call 01202 499255 or visit our get in touch page.