Planning Direct was approached by a client who had purchased a property in Camden, London with a questionable Use Class on two of its five floors.

A thorough examination of the planning history at this site enabled this planning expert at Planning Direct to recommend the client to consider a different approach.

Back in the 1980s a temporary change of use was granted, tied specifically to the then applicant, to enable light industrial work to be carried out at the site (B2). When the new owner approached Planning Direct, with no interest in the commercial business and no knowledge of the history of that business, they had assumed the best route to obtaining the residential use they desired, was to apply for a Sui Generis Use Class. Often councils look unfavourably at the loss of employment opportunities at a site when a use class is altered. This route seemed at first glance to be the best way to ensure an at least part Change of Use; one which incorporated both residential and employment use.

Use Class categorisation, however, has changed somewhat since the 1980s. The constraints on carrying out industrial work in a residential area are far tighter. A new category of B1c has subsequently been introduced, that is

‘Business; for any industrial process (which can be carried out in any residential area without causing detriment to the amenity of the area)’ Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) order 1987

With a thorough knowledge of National Planning Policy specifically (in this incidence) Prior Approval, The Planning Consultant suggested this alternative route; that the Permitted Development right to convert a premises from B1c to C3 could be applied. Cleverly, she highlighted that if she could persuade the council to concede that the current use class was in fact B1c (not in fact B2) then this permitted development right would kick in, enabling the swift and relatively inexpensive change of use, through the granting of a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC). This would then negate the need for a full Change of Use planning application, including the submission of an employee viability study, a full application with accompanying drawings and any other supporting documents.

By forcing the council to confirm this revised categorisation of B1c to this premises, to comply with national planning policy (confirming that any other business use would be unlawful) the consultant then paved the way for the client’s prior approval for a permitted development right (the change of use from B1c to C3).

In order for this application to be successful, the planning consultant just had to demonstrate there would be no impact on traffic, no land contamination issue and no flooding concerns, as are the requirements for any prior approval process.

Camden Planning Authority granted prior approval, the house was subsequently restored to its former residential glory. Another happy Planning Direct client, here’s what he had to say

“We were updated regularly on the progress of our case. The service we received from Planning Direct was very professional and there was a certain determination to secure a result for us in our application to change from B1c to C3. This application had been declined by the planning department on two previous occasions”

“We are very impressed and happy that Planning Direct was able to assist in getting the Change of Use. We will be recommending your services to our clients whenever the need arises”

“Thank you for going that extra mile to get a result”

Contact Planning Direct if you would like some advice on changing the Use Class of your building either through a full planning application or indeed, prior approval. Contact us here.

Click here to read Government guidelines on when you should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC)

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