On 30 September 2020, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that all new homes to be delivered through permitted development rights would be required to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard (the last version of which was published in March 2015).
The announcement followed on from widespread media coverage on proposed planning reforms in the recent Planning White Paper. In the Planning White Paper, whilst the government was seeking to promote the delivery of beautiful, high quality new residential development through its planning policy proposals which met certain amenity standards. It was at the same time, standing by whilst permitted development rights were facilitating the delivery of new homes which did not meet the aspirations the government was promoting.
New regulations have now been made mandating new dwellings to meet space standards, and will soon come into force.
Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020/1243 ("Regulations") shall come into force on 6 April 2021. From that date, any new dwelling to be delivered via permitted development rights must have a gross internal floor area of not less than 37 square metres, unless it is an exempt unit e.g. wheelchair housing.
Transitional arrangements mean that if an application for prior approval is submitted before 6th April 2021 and:
- (a) it is granted before or after 6 April 2021; or
- (b) it is subsequently determined (or deemed to be determined) either before or after 6 April 2021 that prior approval is not required;
then the space standard requirements shall not apply.
Developers wishing to take forward proposals to change the use of commercial or office properties to dwellings, or exercise the new permitted development rights introduced during the Summer 2020, to enable the delivery of new dwellings consequent to the demolition of specified buildings and/or by extending existing commercial or residential buildings upwards, therefore have a short window of opportunity to seek prior approval for schemes without needing to demonstrate full compliance with the space standards.
However, we expect that developers are likely to find that any applications for prior approval it has submitted (or will submit) before 6 April 2021, for schemes that do not meet the space standards, will meet some resistance from Local Planning Authorities and will need careful justification.