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From 6 April 2021, all new homes created through permitted development rights must satisfy the government’s new Nationally Described Space Standard.
What are permitted development rights?
The government define permitted development rights as:
“a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application. Permitted development rights are subject to conditions and limitations to control impacts and to protect local amenity.”
The ability to dispense with a full planning application can lead to the innovative repurposing of existing buildings and faster delivery of new homes, both of which are very much in line with government policy on meeting housing demand. But in some instances, developers are exploiting the lighter approval process to provide very limited space indeed.
What is a dwelling house?
The problem was highlighted recently by the extreme example of a case in Leicester. A planning inspector dismissed an appeal against Leicester City Council’s refusal for prior approval to convert a fish and chip shop to dwellings under permitted development. Almost unbelievably, the developer’s proposal was to convert the ground floor into three tiny self-contained studio flats, varying in size between 7.7 and 9 square metres!
This would have resulted in little if any space for furniture, personal possessions, storage, cooking or food preparation. The bed would have been raised to allow for dining and the toilet separated from the rest of the living space by only a curtain. This led the inspector to conclude that they could not qualify as dwelling houses.
Nationally Described Space Standard
The new Space Standard came into force on 6 April 2021 as a result of an amendment to Article 3 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015. Now, any new one-bedroom flat with a shower created through permitted development rights will need to provide a minimum floorspace of 37 square metres, or 39 square metres if it has a bathroom.
In announcing the new standard, Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said:
“The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of having somewhere secure and comfortable to live. While most developers deliver good homes and do the right thing, I’m tackling the minority of developers abusing the system by announcing that new homes delivered will have to meet space standards.”