What are permitted development rights?

Shedding light on Permitted Development Rights (PDR). An overview of the regulations implemented to allow for certain forms of development to occur without the need for planning permission.

Hugh Gibbs
September 25, 2023

Development in the UK is generally regulated through planning applications. Planning decisions are supposed to be issued within 8 weeks, or 13 weeks for more complex applications. As such, the process can be time-consuming. This article aims to shed light on the introduction of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) which were implemented to allow for certain forms of development to occur without the need for full planning permission. 

What are Permitted Development Rights?

While PDRs have existed in some form since 1948, it is only recently under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order (GDPO) 2015[2]where significant changes have been implemented annually. 

Permitted development rights were introduced to help simplify the planning process. Applicants need only apply for "Prior approval” from a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to make any changes. Due to PDRs, LPAs can only take into account a limited variety of concerns. Issues such as the principle of the conversion, design or other planning obligations are out of the picture.  

Common types of Permitted Development Rights

Some common permitted development rights include:

  • Interior remodelling 
  • Installation and modifications of chimneys, antenna, satellite dishes, CCTV
  • Erection of gates, fences, walls and other enclosures (no more than 2 m high)
  • Provision of certain hard surfaces and means of access to a highway
  • Exterior painting (other than advertisements)
  • Temporary structures and plant for construction purposes
  • Temporary structures remaining for no more than 28 days
  • Building operations consisting of the demolition of a building 


With an easier route for ‘prior approval’ for certain projects, homeowners, landowners and developers have greater freedom. Nonetheless, certain restrictions will still apply, these include:

  • Listed buildings
  • Conservation Areas
  • National Parks
  • Areas of outstanding natural beauty
  • Article 4 Direction (see below) 

Article 4 Direction 

While Permitted Development rights are in place nationally, LPAs can issue an ‘Article 4’ direction. These are usually restricted to certain areas such as commercial and industrial hubs or conservation areas where the Local Authority wants to preserve the existing character and employment uses of the area. 

When an ‘Article 4’ direction is invoked, planning permission will be needed to carry out work that is usually not needed in other areas. Because these are seldom publicised widely, one needs to do thorough research on whether one exists in your local neighbourhood.

Recent Amendments 

Since 2013, much of the PDR changes deal with the conversion of Office, Retail and Industrial to Residential uses. These changes are part of the government’s attempt to deliver more housing in England. It is estimated that 15,000 additional dwellings have been delivered annually.‍ In 2021 some of the existing PDRs for permanent change of use were changed or updated - 

Part 3 Classes A-F and PDR Class JA replaced with a new right to change from casino, betting office, pay day loan shops, and takeaways to use Class E with no limitations or conditions.

Part 3 Class M partially retained to allow the sui generis uses to continue to benefit from Class M. But in most cases Class M is now superseded by the new Class MA.

Class MA Retail, takeaway or specified sui generis to Residential. Class MA has replaced Class O office to residential and partially replaced Class M retail.

The future of PDRs

The Government issued a consultation (ending in September 2023) that could bring forth new changes for permitted development rights for commercial conversions in the GPDO.

Class MA

As of March 4 2024, floor space rules for Class MA have been scrapped. Prior to this developers could only transform properties of 1500 sqm or less. The government have also ditched the requirement that building sneed to be vacant for 3 months prior to application.

Hotels C1 to residential

Right now, going from C1 (hotels) to residential is a no-go unless you get full planning approval. But, they're thinking about changing the rules. The plan is to let Class C1 hotels transform into residential spaces. This could be a game-changer for developers, but there might be some limits in place in certain areas to protect tourism. That might mean creating new Article 4 rules.

Class Q – change from an agricultural building (barn) to residential

There are some potential tweaks in the pipeline for Class Q. Currently, you can make up to five dwellings with a total space of 865 sqm. But here's the scoop: they're thinking about doubling the number of dwellings you can create, going from five to ten. And there's also talk of having a cap of either 100 sqm or 150 sqm for each dwelling, with a total limit of 1,000 sqm.

Here's the exciting part: they're considering allowing single-storey rear extensions of up to 4m in depth during conversions. This could be a game-changer for new conversions.

Want to know how we can help leverage PDRs to find your next big development opportunity? We've got you covered with our intelligent land-sourcing tool! We’d recommend you jump on a demo with our team so they can show you everything Searchland has to offer.

Hugh Gibbs
May 9, 2024

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