26 April 2021


Business Space, Commercial, Development, Industry News, Offices, Residential, Retail & Leisure

The new Class MA Permitted Development right allowing a range of commercial uses (Class E) to convert to housing without needing a planning application will be introduced on 1st August 2021. Class MA will replace the current Class O (Office to Residential) and Class M (Shops and financial and professional services to residential).

Key conditions for Class MA are:

  • 1500 sqm area limit (the focus is on medium sized high street sites which are more likely to be suitable for conversion)
  • Must have been vacant for three continuous months immediately before the date of application for prior approval.
  • Unit must have been in class E use for at least two years before the application (or equivalent former use class order)
  • The usual prior approval conditions apply (flooding; transport impacts; contamination; adequate natural light; noise) plus a few new ones:
    • impact on future residents from introduction of residential use in an area
    • impact of the loss of health centres and registered children’s nurseries on the provision of local services
    • impact of the loss of ground floor commercial, business and service use on the character and sustainability (In Conversation Areas)
  • An application for prior approval for development under Class MA may not be made before 1st August 2021.
  • National parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and sites of special scientific interest will be exempt from the right.

The memorandum states that separate legislation later in the year will amend the right to introduce an additional prior approval in relation to the fire safety of the building changing use.

Article 4 directions exempting areas from current commercial-to-residential PD rights will continue to have effect on equivalent development in respect of offices under Class MA until 31 July 2022.

Contact SHW Planning if you have any questions on the new Class MA or if you would like to discuss your development opportunity.

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Zoe Brown


Senior Planner

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