Class MA – New Permitted Development Rights for Commercial Property

From the 1st of August 2021, a new Permitted Development (PD) Right will allow unused commercial buildings to be converted into residential use under the more streamlined prior approval process.
The introduction of Class MA occurs at a time when there is a major shakeup in building uses as part of the central government’s transition period to the new Use Classes Order which will formerly supersede the old order on the 31st of July 2021. This change requires a complete rethink on the related permitted development rights, of which Class MA is only a small part.
This permitted development right will allow all buildings with a lawful Class E Commercial Use (formerly A1 retail, A2 Professional Services, A3 food and drink, B1 business, D1 non-residential institutions, and D2 assembly and leisure) to be converted into residential use (Class C3 – dwellinghouses) as long as a number of criteria are met.
The main criteria are that the building must have been unoccupied for a continuous period of at least three months in the run-up to the application being submitted, and the floor area of the building being converted must not exceed 1500 sqm. It is worth noting that whilst Class MA allows for the change of use to residential, planning permission is still required for the physical alterations or development works associated with the conversion of the building.
Watch this space, because there are numerous other permitted development rights for various existing and proposed uses that will require updating before the transitional provisions of the Use Classes Order come to an end in August 2021.