• PDR Office to Residential Change
Our contact within DCLG has indicated that transitional measures will be approved before the PDR for office conversion to residential is made permanent in May 2016. This will ensure prior notification applications approved before this date, but which have not been implemented, can remain valid for 3 years from the date of the approval. This transitional measure will be adopted before May 2016 ensuring you will all have 3 years from the date of your PD approval to implement a change from office to residential. The May 2016 changes to the PDR rules are also likely to be extended to allow you to demolish or refurbish an office building to residential by way of prior notification application negating the need for planning permission. We suspect though that such prior notification applications will need to be supported by various technical reports and plans. Your approval at this time will not be subject to the application of affordable housing policy or CIL.

• Barn Conversions
It is likely Ministers will also review the criteria concerning PDR agricultural building conversion to residential to provide greater flexibility regarding rural economy diversification associated with barn conversions.

Ministers are very focussed on reviewing the complex subject of CIL and on 13 November 2015 an independent review of CIL was announced by DCLG. The CIL review team are now undergoing a wide consultation process to allow all to have an input into how CIL can be improved. A questionnaire seeking observation and ideas on possible improvements is available on DCLG’s website which should be completed by 24 December 2015. Essentially the review will consider the effectiveness of CIL relating to funding infrastructure and it will make recommendations to the Minister about how CIL should be changed. We are told the Minister is taking this initiative very seriously and the review will lead to a major overhaul.

• HMG Spending Review
As part of the Treasury spending review, considerable interest is being given by Ministers to the concept of scrapping the national planning application charge schedule and rather, allowing individual planning authorities to be given the right to set their own planning charge rates. Some may view this as a sensible initiative so long as appropriate fees are set and the resultant income is used to fund a first class Local Planning Authority service. The risk being though that high individual local area charges are set and that the resultant income does not lead to any improvement in service provision. One to watch very closely.

John Foddy Managing Director FoddyConsult