In our article dated 22 April 2020, Gary and I summarised some of the recent issues arising from appeals relating to permitted development rights under Class O conversion from office to residential use. As a follow up, we thought it would be useful to highlight a recent question posed to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in relation to whether there is an intention to undertake a review of the adequacy of space standards in planning regulations as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The response on 18 May 2020 by Christopher Pincher, Conservative MP for Tamworth, was that  local planning authorities are able to apply the optional technical Nationally Described Space Standard where justified, through their development plan policies. The Government does not have any plans to review the space standards at present, but does intend to consult on the application of optional technical standards for accessible housing under Part M of the Building Regulations.

 There has been a debate for some time as to whether applications for prior approval under Class O should be subject to space standards to ensure that the units being constructed as a result are of adequate quality, particularly in relation to the size of rooms and the availability of windows and outdoor space. This debate is likely to continue and may become more pertinent due to the dichotomy arising in the current circumstances with home working necessitating the availability of quality homes balanced against a likely increase in applications with owners rethinking the future of office space and its suitability for conversion.