The Evolution of Permitted Development Rights in 2023 and to June 2024

This blog post provides an overview of the key policy reforms announced in 2023 and the first half of 2024, focusing on the changes that have been implemented and those that are yet to be taken forward by the Government.

Class MA and Class Q Changes

From March 5th, 2024, commercial buildings under Use Class E can be converted to residential use (Class C3), regardless of their size. The previous size threshold of 1,500 sqm has been abolished, and the requirement for the building to be vacant for at least 3 months prior to the application has been removed.

On May 21st, 2024, the Government introduced changes to Class Q prior approval, allowing up to 10 dwellings to be created from agricultural buildings, up from the previous limit of 5. However, each new home is limited to 150 sqm to encourage the development of smaller family homes. Additionally, a new right to extend the ground floor to the rear by up to 4 metres has been introduced.

New permitted development rights could also emerge for short-term holiday lets and fluid changes of use between C3 and a possible new C5 class properties for short-term and holiday lets. Added to the picture is a longer-term ambition for permitted rights to change hotels to residential.

Added flexibility for commercial spaces is mooted too – with doubled size limits for industrial extensions and new buildings.

The 4-Year Rule and Development Without Consent

In November 2023, the Government increased the time required to prove the lawfulness of unauthorised development from 4 years to 10 years. This change affects any works not ‘substantially complete’ before April 25th, 2024, or where the change of use to residential occurred after that date. Buyers should exercise caution when acquiring land with evident development but no planning consent to avoid potential enforcement issues.

Short-Term Lets

The Government is considering establishing a new use class (possibly ‘Use Class C5’) for short-term visitor accommodation (STVA) based on whether the property is used for short-term lets for more than 90 days in a calendar year. Properties within the 90-day rule may benefit from a new PD right to move between C5 and C3 use without planning permission. A mandatory national register of STVA is also being considered.

Hotels and Guest Houses (Use Class C1) to Dwellinghouses

The Government has proposed allowing the change of use from hotels, boarding houses, or guest houses (Class C1) to dwellinghouses through PD rights. Safeguards and local planning authority consideration may be necessary, particularly regarding the impact on the local tourism economy. No further mention of this proposal has been made by the Government.

Class G Rights

The proposed changes to double the number of units achievable through Class G (conversion of space above Class E uses to residential) have not yet become law. Class G remains useful for listed buildings, buildings that may have been in commercial use for less than 2 years, and areas where PD rights may have been removed by Article 4 Directions for other commercial to residential rights, such as under Class MA.

Betting Shops, Pay Day Loan Shops, Casinos, and Amusement Arcades

The Government has consulted on introducing a two-year rolling requirement for Class M (betting shops, pay-day loan shops, and launderettes) and Class N (casinos and amusement arcades) PD rights. They have also considered doubling or abolishing the 150 sqm size limit for these conversions. However, no decisions have been made on these proposals.

House to Two Flats

Despite the Chancellor’s announcement in the Autumn Budget about a potential new PD right to allow the conversion of single dwellinghouses to up to two flats, no further announcements have been made.

Extensions to Commercial Buildings

Proposals to increase the size of extensions to existing commercial and industrial buildings and enable larger new buildings on existing industrial land were well-received in July 2023. However, these reforms have not been carried forward, and there has been no news on the outcome of the initial consultation.


With the General Election approaching (July 2024) and numerous PD rights yet to be formally revised, the future of these proposed changes remains uncertain.

The incoming Government will face the same housing crisis and may need to utilise various tools, including PD rights, to make progress toward national housing targets.  The Labour Government has emphasised the importance of meeting housing demand and using brownfield land and conversions and repurposing of existing buildings to achieve this (alongside other proposed initiatives).  Therefore, we would be surprised if Labour was to significantly remove or alter the existing PD rights, such as by introducing additional barriers and conditions on PD.

DRK Planning will monitor these developments closely to provide accurate advice to clients navigating the ever-changing landscape of permitted development rights.

Note: the information contained within this blog is correct at the time of writing – June 2024.

DRK Planning Ltd is a multi-disciplinary planning and development consultancy practice founded by David Kemp. With more than 20 years of experience in planning consultancy. DRK Planning provides a diverse range of expertise, adding value to owners and businesses through a wide range of property services.

If you have an enquiry about Permitted Development Rights – email info@drkplanning.co.uk we’re happy to discuss your project in an initial brief introductory call.