Conversion of commercial property to residential – Class MA

The new Permitted Development order, Class MA, published 30th
March, allows for the conversion of Class E uses (Commercial, business and service) to residential purposes through the prior approval procedure.

To be able to use this, the key qualification criteria for the property include:

  • It has to be vacant for a continuous period 3 months prior to the application being made.
  • Its use falls within A1, A2, A3, B1, D1a, D1b and D2 uses for a period of two years prior to the date of the application.
  • The cumulative floor space of the existing building for changing use under class MA is less than 1500 sq.m.

There are also various other restrictions preventing the right being exercised where it involves listed buildings or properties in the AONB. However, the site being in a conservation area does not preclude the right being exercised.

Why is this new order significant?

It replaces Class O, Office to Residential, which whilst it has its critics, was and remains an important tool for creating fall back positions allowing for the positive reuse of redundant office buildings.

The key difference between Class MA and Class O is the floorspace limit. Class O had no floorspace limit, enabling whole buildings to be converted. In the case of Class MA, the 1500 sq.m. floorspace will have implications for those looking to make best use of their assets moving forward.

How can we help?

Understanding your permitted development rights is an important part of considering the planning potential of commercial properties because they can advocate all important “fall back” positions, which are a material consideration in determining planning applications.

The new MA right is the latest in a string of major changes to commercial use classes and permitted development rights. We were recently successful in using Class E on a difficult to let light industrial unit, which is now enjoying a new lease of life as a gymnastics club. We are currently advising clients on the MA right and what it means for their commercial property.

Understanding permitted development rights is part of our strong track record of success in gaining permissions for residential and commercial developments. We use this knowledge, allied with that of the wider planning policy to leverage a successful outcome for your development proposals.