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Gloucestershire Business News

Business expert: Permitted development and regeneration in Gloucester

By Liz Shield of SF Planning Ltd 

The Government hopes that some of the recent changes to Permitted Development ('PD') rights will assist in the revitalisation of the more neglected parts of our town centres.

It hopes to avoid vacant units sitting empty for long periods of time where their current use no longer makes economic sense, writes Liz Shield of SF Planning Ltd.

The regeneration of the Docks and Quays recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary - a good example of how successful regeneration schemes must incorporate a variety of uses to draw in visitors.

Other parts of Gloucester still require some attention, and the regeneration work which has taken place to date has been mainly in the absence of an up to date, flexible Local Plan which would help to coordinate development.

The Government hopes that some of the recent changes to Permitted Development ('PD') rights will revitalise the more neglected parts of our town centres and avoid vacant units sitting empty for long periods of time where

their current use no longer makes economic sense.

This article looks at some of the changes and how they could support the regeneration of Gloucester.

Firstly, there has been an extension to a temporary PD right which now allows a change of use between shops, financial and professional, cafes, takeaways, businesses, non-residential institutions and assembly/leisure. This

permits that change of use to continue for up to three years rather than two.

This should therefore allow local businesses, community groups or charities time to test local demand for their goods or services and better establish themselves.

Secondly, a new PD right permits a change of use of a building from shops, financial and professional services, hot food takeaways betting offices, pay day loan shops or launderettes (providing it was in that use on or before October 29 2018) to offices.

To alleviate concerns that this may encourage the wrong sort of use in the wrong place, there is a prior approval procedure.

This allows a Local Authority to consider (among other things) whether it is 'undesirable' for the building to change use to offices because of the impact of the change of use on adequate provision of services; or because of the impact on the sustainability of 'key shopping areas' (which confusingly is not defined in the legislation).

In Gloucester, giving some priority to reoccupying vacant units will hopefully visually enhance those more neglected retail frontages which are not receiving the same attention as areas such as Kings Quarter.

Thirdly, the class of PD rights which permits a change of use from a variety of use classes including retail, financial and professional institutions to residential has been expanded to allow for a change of use from hot food takeaways.

There is a requirement to consider the need for a retail impact assessment, drafted similarly to the requirement in connection with the change of use to offices with the potential to cause similar issues of interpretation.

Although these three changes have the capacity to support regeneration, it is clear that PD rights cannot be the only way to achieve an overall 'vision' for town centres which meet everyone's needs.

A flexible Local Plan is also important in order to facilitate pro-active decision making.

Alongside the new PD rights, the emerging Gloucester City Plan has the potential to co-ordinate a vision for Gloucester whilst hopefully avoiding unduly prescriptive policies which have stifled the successful evolution of

town centre spaces elsewhere in the country. We hope to see more on the emerging plan in the coming months.

For more information on any aspect of the planning process, contact Liz Shield at SF Planning Ltd by calling 01452 527997, emailing liz@sfplanning.co.uk, visiting www.sfplanning.co.uk  or via Twitter, @SFPlanningLtd. 

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