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15th July, 2014

Advice on Prior Approval for Change of Use

Permitted Development

In many cases a change of use of a building or land does not need planning permission, for example when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘Class’, or if the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order states that a change of class is permitted to another specified class.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014 came into effect on the 1st April 2014 and provides greater flexibility to change the use of premises providing a simplified Application to be submitted to the LPA to determine whether ‘Prior Approval’ is required for development falling within the new Order.

These changes are designed to simplify the change of use system and to promote the provision of new homes, nurseries and schools.

Prior Approval Application

An Application is required to be made to the Local Planning Authority to change a building having a commercial use to a childcare nursery.

The LPA has to notify adjoining landowners of the Application and they have 21 days to respond.

The responses to the Consultation have to be on the development’s impact on transport and highways, noise, contamination risk and flood risk.

Though it had previously been the position that most external building work associated with a change of use required Planning Permission, minor works to adapt the building to its new use are now permitted, e.g. altering the façade of the building.

In the case of a nursery, building works can be carried out as at schools without the need for Planning Permission.

Changes under Permitted Development rights need to meet habitats, environmental and heritage legislation where relevant.

An LPA can choose to opt out of Permitted Development rights by issuing an Article 4 Direction so that express Planning Permission will be required in those areas subject to the Article 4 Direction for uses and operational works which otherwise would be Permitted Development.

A copy of the Prior Approval Application form is attached and is available from the Planning Portal Website.

The fee is £80 and a to-scale plan indicating the site and proposed development is required to accompany the Application.

A determination by the LPA has to be made within 56 days of receiving the Application and the decision can be that Prior Approval is not required.

If no determination is made at the end of that period the development can proceed.

If Approval is required, then it can be given subject to the imposition of Conditions, or refused.


There is a right of Appeal to the Secretary of State against any Conditions imposed as being unacceptable or where Approval refused, and an Appeal has to be lodged within six months of the date of the Decision Notice.

For more information on this or any other planning matter, please contact David Delaney on 01244 405538 or email [email protected]

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