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Permitted development and prior approval

Changes have been made to permitted development for houses, schools, commercial and industrial sites with effect from 30 May 2013. These changes increase allowances or alter permitted changes of use, sometimes for a temporary period and sometimes for a limited time.

See also: Do I need planning permission?

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Extensions to houses

On 9 May 2013, secondary legislation was laid before Parliament that has increased the size of single-storey rear extensions which can be built under permitted development; and brought into force the associated neighbour consultation scheme. This legislation was subsequently updated with revised legislation that came into force on the 15 April 2015.

For a period up to 30 May 2019, householders will be able to build larger single-storey rear extensions under permitted development subject to receiving prior approval. The size limits will double from 4 metres to 8 metres for detached houses, and from 3 metres to 6 metres for all other houses. The changes to householder development do not apply to flats in any case or houses in conservation areas.

More information about the householder prior approval procedure and the neighbour consultation scheme can be found in the CLG's larger home extensions document.

Application form for Householder Prior Approvals

Please submit your application by email to prior.approval@merton.gov.uk or by post to Prior Approval Application, Development Control, 14th Floor, Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, SM4 5DX.

Procedure to be followed for Householder/ Class A, Part 1, Schedule 2 Prior Approval applications

A householder wishing to build a larger single-storey rear extension must notify the local planning authority and provide:

  • a written description of the proposal which includes the length that the extension extends beyond the rear wall of the original house, the height at the eaves and the height at the highest point of the extension;
  • a plan of the site, showing the proposed development;
  • the addresses of any adjoining properties, including at the rear;
  • a contact address for the developer and an email address if the developer is happy to receive correspondence by email.

There is no fee in connection with this process.

The local authority may ask for further information if it needs it to make a decision about the impact of the development on the amenity of adjoining properties.

Neighbour consultation

The local authority will serve a notice on adjoining owners or occupiers, i.e. those who share a boundary, including to the rear. This will give the address of the proposed development and describe it, including the information in 1(a) above. It will also set out:

  • when the application was received, and when the 42-day determination period ends
  • how long neighbours have to make objections (which must be a minimum of 21 days), and the date by which these must be received. A copy of this notice must also be sent to the developer.
  • If any adjoining neighbour raises an objection within the 21-day period, the local authority will take this into account and make a decision about whether the impact on the amenity of all adjoining properties is acceptable.

No other issues will be considered.

Decisions

The development can go ahead if the local authority notifies the developer in writing either:

  • that as no objections were received from adjoining neighbours it has not been necessary to consider the impact on amenity, or
  • that following consideration, it has decided that the effect on the amenity of adjoining properties is acceptable.

If the local authority does not notify the developer of its decision within the 42-day determination period, the development may go ahead.

If approval is refused, the developer may appeal.

The extension must be built in accordance with the details approved by the local authority (or, if no objections were raised or the local authority has not notified the developer of its decision, the details submitted), unless the local authority agrees any changes in writing.

The development must accord with all other relevant limitations and conditions which apply to other rear extensions allowed under permitted development. These are set out in Class A, and include for example, the requirement that the extension must be constructed using materials of a similar appearance to those used in the construction of the rest of the house.

Limited time offer

To benefit from these permitted development rights, the extension must be completed on or before 30 May 2019. The developer must notify the local authority in writing of the date of completion.

Office to residential conversion

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 allows changes of use from office (Use Class B1(a) to dwellinghouse (Use Class C3) subject to prior approval.

For a period up to 30 May 2016 government has stated that a change of use of an office building and land within its curtilage to a residential use falling within the Class C3 dwellinghouses Use Class (which includes flats and houses) will be permitted development (i.e. the change of use will not require planning permission). Merton has an Article 4 Direction to exempt Wimbledon town centre and Merton's industrial estates from this permitted change (see below for more details)

Changing an office to residential use is subject to a prior approval process whereby a developer shall apply to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the local planning authority will be required as to:

(a) transport and highways impacts of the development;

(b) contamination risks on the site; and

(c) flooding risks on the site.

Application form for prior approval of change of use from office (Use Class B1(a)) to dwelling houses (Use Class C3).

Please submit your application by email to prior.approval@merton.gov.uk or by post to Prior Approval Application, Development Control, 14th Floor, Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, SM4 5DX.

The fee for this application is £80.

Procedure to be followed for office to dwelling house prior approval - Application submission

The developer must notify the local planning authority and provide (as set out on the Council’s prior approval form –link above)

  • A written description of the proposed development
  • A plan indicating the site and showing the proposed development (this should comprise an O.S. site plan identifying the site in relation to its neighbours as well as a plan showing the floorspace and any curtilage land involved)
  • The developer’s contact address and an email address if the developer is happy to receive correspondence by email. A contact phone number is also desirable.

Neighbour consultation

The Council will display a site notice on or near the land to which the application relates for a period of not less than 21 days that specifies the address and description of the development and the date by which any representations are to be received.

Further Information

The local planning authority may require the developer to submit information regarding the transport and highways impacts of the development; contamination risks on the site; and flooding risks on the site if considered necessary to determine the application. It is therefore strongly suggested that any such relevant supporting information, including the flood zone (1, 2 or 3) that the application falls into, should be submitted with the initial application, as it may otherwise have to be refused if such information is not provided within the required timeframe.

Decision

The change of use cannot take place until – the occurrence of 1 of the following:

  • The local planning authority provides written notice that prior approval is not required
  • The local planning authority gives written notice that prior approval is given
  • The expiry of a period of 56 days from receipt of the application without the local planning authority notifying the applicant that prior approval is either not required, approved or refused.

Offices to residential: Article 4 Direction proposed for parts of Merton

Since 30 May 2013, new government planning rules has meant that the conversion of offices to houses or flats does not require planning permission.

In Merton we are concerned about the impact this will have in the area’s ability to retain existing businesses and jobs, attract new businesses and jobs, and provide services locally for Merton’s residents, workers and visitors.

Therefore we have decided to use an Article 4 Direction to reintroduce the need for planning permission for the conversion of offices to houses or flats in Wimbledon town centre and Merton’s industrial estates.

Consultation took place on this proposal between December 2013 and January 2014. The overwhelming majority of respondents supported the proposed Article 4. The Statement of Consultation (see document link below) summarises the responses received.

Merton Council resolved to confirm this Article 4 Direction at their meeting on 02 April 2014 so it came into effect on 03 April 2015.

On 27 March 2015 the Secretary of State amended Merton Council's Article 4 Direction to clarify that offices that have already been granted prior approval to change to residential use before 03 April 2015 will not have these rights removed by Merton's Article 4 Direction (see the Secretary of State's notice below)

From 03 April 2015, in the areas listed below, proposals for existing offices to change to residential will have to seek planning permission (not prior approval) before making the change:

  • Wimbledon town centre
  • Willow Lane industrial estate, Mitcham
  • Garth Road industrial estate, Lower Morden
  • South Wimbledon [Morden Road] Business Area
  • Durnsford Road industrial estate, Wimbledon Park
  • Dundonald Road industrial estate, Wimbledon
  • Plough Lane industrial estate, Wimbledon Park
  • Prince George’s Road industrial estate, Colliers Wood

If a property in any of the areas above becomes an office in the future, the rules will also apply to that office.

What happens if I have already sought prior approval to change an office into residential in any of the above places? On 27 March 2015 the Secretary of State modified Merton's Article 4 Direction to exclude any office premises which have secured prior approval before 03 April 2015 from the influence of the Direction.

Secretary of State notice modifying Merton's Article 4 Direction - 27 March 2015

I own or occupy another type of business, shop, house or flat in this area; will I be affected? No, you won't be affected by the proposed Article 4 Direction.

I own or occupy an office elsewhere in the borough, will I be affected by this Article 4 Direction? No you won't be affected by the proposed Article 4 Direction; only offices within the areas listed above will have the permitted development rights withdrawn.

Flexible use of non-residential buildings

In addition to the new arrangements for certain householder extensions, the amendments also provide for greater flexibility for temporary uses of buildings designated for shops, professional services such as accountants; restaurants, cafes and pubs; offices and buildings such as libraries, clinics and church halls, cinemas and ice rinks to be used as retail, restaurant/cafe or office space for up to two years.

The new flexible arrangements are conditional and are subject to the developer meeting the requirements of a formal notification process requiring the developer to notify the local planning authority of the date the site will begin to be used for one of the flexible uses. The full details of the new permitted development arrangements and the conditions which they are subject to are set out in the new Class D of Part 4 (Temporary buildings and uses) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

Procedure to be followed for Class D, Part 4, Schedule 2

A developer wishing to benefit from the permitted development rights for temporary uses must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Notify the local planning authority of the date the site will begin to be used for one of the flexible uses, and what that use will be, before the use begins.
  • If at any time, during the two year period, a change of use falling within one of the other use classes comprising the flexible use is proposed, then the developer must notify the local planning authority in the same manner as above before the uses begins.
  • The site reverts to its previous lawful use at the end of the period of flexible use.

There is no fee in connection with this process.

Merton Council requires the developer to provide

  • Notification in the form of a letter of the proposed use and separate notification in the event of any subsequent use comprising the flexible use;
  • A contact address for the developer and an email address.
  • A plan of the site identifying the building and any land within its curtilage which the developer wishes to benefit from the new permitted development rights.

Merton Council will provide the developer, within 28 days from receipt of a valid notification:

  • A letter confirming receipt of notification.
  • The criteria which the developer must fulfil in order to benefit from the new permitted development arrangements.

See also

Related websites

Contact us

Email: prior.approval@merton.gov.uk

Prior Approval Application
Development Control
14th Floor
Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5DX

This page was last updated on Friday 17 July 2015

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