New ‘Class MA’ Permitted Development Rights

Convert business properties to residential

A new Permitted Development right class was introduced in April 2021 following the reorganisation of the existing planning Use Class Orders in September 2020, but any application may not be made before 1st August 2021.


The new ‘Class MA’ Permitted Development Rights supersedes the existing prior approval Class O (conversion of office to residential prior approval) and Class M (conversion of retail to residential use).  This permits the conversion of Shops, Financial and Professional Services, Restaurants, Cafes, Offices, Light Industrial, Healthcare services, Creches, Day Nursery and Indoor Sports to C3 Residential Use. 


The building must have been vacant for three months prior to an application being submitted and have been a Class E use for 2 years before it was vacant.  This is a positive change as many other PD rights are date stamped, often back to 2013.  There is also a maximum floor area restriction of 1,500sqm, which is generous given some rights were previously restricted to 150sqm.


As with other prior approval applications, local authorities will consider the potential impact on ground contamination, flooding, highways and provision of adequate natural light.  Interestingly, the rights apply to sites within Conservation Areas, open countryside and Greenbelt where it is typically difficult to obtain approval for a new dwelling.  However the rights do not apply to land in AONB’s, Listed Buildings or National Parks. 

It’s important to remember that the PD right does not include approval of any external building operations, meaning planning approval will be required for the majority of external physical interventions to the building such as new doors, windows.


The 56 day rule applies to this class meaning local planning authorities must determine the application within this time period and the clock starts ticking the day after receipt of a completed application, so councils should not delay in validating applications.  Any development must be completed within 3 years of the prior approval date.


This new permitted development right presents great opportunities for some landowners, so feel free to call us to discuss the potential of any buildings you have.


April 2021