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Class G Rocks my World!

Class G of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development )(England) Order 2015 (SI 2015 596) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/596/made
provides for the conversion of up to 2 self contained dwellings from the areas above a retail premises within Class A1 or A2 of the Use Classes Order. The permitted Development Allowance states:

Class G – retail or betting office or pay day loan shop to mixed use

Permitted development

G. Development consisting of a change of use of a building—

(a)from a use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of that Schedule and as up to 2 flats;

(b)from a use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of that Schedule and as up to 2 flats;

(c)from a use—

(i)for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, or

(ii)as a betting office or a pay day loan shop,

to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of that Schedule and as up to 2 flats;

(d)where that building has a display window at ground floor level, from a use—

(i)for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, or

(ii)as a betting office or a pay day loan shop,

to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order and as up to 2 flats;

(e)from a use as a betting office or a pay day loan shop to a mixed use as a betting office or a pay day loan shop and as up to 2 flats.

Conditions

G.1 Development permitted by Class G is subject to the following conditions—

(a)some or all of the parts of the building used as a betting office or pay day loan shop or for any purposes within Class A1 or Class A2, as the case may be, of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order is situated on a floor below the lowest part of the building used as a flat;

(b)where the development consists of a change of use of any building with a display window at ground floor level, the ground floor must not be used in whole or in part as a flat;

(c)a flat must not be used otherwise than as a dwelling (whether or not as a sole or main residence)—

(i)by a single person or by people living together as a family, or

(ii)by not more than 6 residents living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents).

Interpretation of Class G

G.2 For the purposes of Class G, “care” means personal care for people in need of such care by reason of old age, disablement, past or present dependence on alcohol or drugs or past or present mental disorder.

Class G is one of the most open of all of the prior notification allowances when compared to others within the same part (Part 3) and provides for the widest range of convertable properties.

Looking first at what is permitted:

(a)from a use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of that Schedule and as up to 2 flats;

(b)from a use for any purpose within Class A1 (shops) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order, to a mixed use for any purpose within Class A2 (financial and professional services) of that Schedule and as up to 2 flats;

(ii)as a betting office or a pay day loan shop, (e)from a use as a betting office or a pay day loan shop to a mixed use as a betting office or a pay day loan shop and as up to 2 flats.

This prescribes that the internal storage areas, offices or retail floorspace above any Shop (A1), Financial and Professional Service (A2) or betting office/payday loan shop (Sui-Generis) may be converted to up to two flats.

The general conditions and prescriptions mean that the upper floors must be within the same planning unit (Burdle et al) ie not already a self contained flat or used for a materially different use by a different operator, i.e. offices above retail used by a different business (there is a seperate permitted development allowance for that.

In terms of what is not said or allowed, Class G does not allow you to alter or extend a property as part of the use of the Class so any alterations must be sought as part of an external alterations planning application (much in the same way as Class O).

Looking than at the restrictions

(a)some or all of the parts of the building used as a betting office or pay day loan shop or for any purposes within Class A1 or Class A2, as the case may be, of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order is situated on a floor below the lowest part of the building used as a flat;

(a) provides a simple provision that the shop use et al must be below the dwelling use. Therefore in an extreme example the basement of a building can be used as a shop with the upper floors (ground floor and above) being used to provide the two flats. Importantly however this condition is explicit in that there must be a shop use etc at the time the conversion is carried out.

Interestingly the condition is silent on the subject of the retention of the retail use after the effect. This is because this PD allowance was focused on the high street where it was nover considered that the GF retail use would also be developable. Therefore it is possible to combine a PD allowance such as this with other allowances or planning permissions to eradicate a retail type use.

(b)where the development consists of a change of use of any building with a display window at ground floor level, the ground floor must not be used in whole or in part as a flat;

(b) re-emphysises (a) with the additional provision that if the retail use has a shop front then the flats must occour at upper floor levels above the shop. Again this does not discredit the building in relation to other planning permissions or use of prior approval as there is no ongoing condition to retan.

(c)a flat must not be used otherwise than as a dwelling (whether or not as a sole or main residence)— (i)by a single person or by people living together as a family, or (ii)by not more than 6 residents living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents).

(c) provides the general definition of what is a dwelling within Use Class C3. Again there is no foward control to prevent the use of other permitted development allowances or the use of a planning permission such as Class L (HMO).

What is not said

The conditions to Class G omit the following common clauses:

There is a distinct absence of a time condition. Most of the PN permitted development allowances prevent a change of use into a permitted development bearing use through a time condition, Classes O, M, N, P, PA and Q are so conditioned. Class G however is not so restricted allowing a developer to change use into (via another permitted development allowance or planning permission) or build or alter a building into the allowance (via a planning permission). This opens up a massive range of development projects and sites to a sensible investor that understands how to manipulate this allowance.

The above classes also exempt buildings with the following distinctions:

(g)the building is—

(i)on article 2(3) land;

(ii)in a site of special scientific interest;

(iii)in a safety hazard area;

(iv)in a military explosives storage area;

(v)a listed building; or

(vi)a scheduled monument.

Again Class G is silent on all of these restrictions, in fact Class G has no ‘development not permitted’ section at all. There are no overriding prescriptions that therefore exempt buildings that are listed, in a conservation area, in a national park or within the greenbelt. This renders Class G development one of the most open of the GPDO classes and allows developers to target development opportunities that were previously considered off limits.

Importantly Class G does not exempt from the requirement to apply for Listed Building Consent or Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent (Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act) 1990) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/9/contents which is a seperate consenting regime. However it does allow a developer to at least progress a development in the comfort that planning permission will not be required for these type of projects.

Class G only prescribes a number of dwellings, it does not prescribe the size of those dwellings. There is no condition or restriction on the floor area that may be converted and therefore a developer may convert as much floor area as he or she see’s fit. There is no provision that the development has to be plausible or that it has to meet national standards however adherance to the minimum mortgage lenders limit (unless following a build to rent strategy) is professionally recommended.

There is no provision preventing a bolt on with other permitted development allowances. Class G may be used with any other compatible allowance and is not included in any of the ‘development not permitted’ sections within each of the other Permitted Development Classes. Thus, where you can, you may use a further permitted development or prior approval allowance to extend the provision of Class G

Finally, and coming back to the original purpose of Class G, it is perfect for developments within the primary shopping area. Class G was always intended to open developments within areas where policy control is absolute and to provide a viable alternative use for the vacant upper floors in order to mitigate at least some of the country’s housing crisis.

Developments within the Town Centre tend to be the most sustainable and the most viable for schemes of starter homes or smaller dwellings. Shop owners or retailers with space above tend to only use those spaces for offices or storage and many are under-utilized. It is often the case that a charity shop (for example) falling within Class A1 will inefficiently use the upper floors for storage where a simple rationalisation of their space would yeild one clear floor of development potential. Development under Class G would make this a workable solution with the internal works (on a non listed building) not requiring planning permission at all.

To conclude

Class G is a great starter PD allowance for new investors and a great ‘retail vanilla’ development opportunity for seasoned investors remembering of course that planning permission is not required and there is no express requirement to do a prior approval.

by Jon McDermott