The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2020 (the "Regulations") were laid before Parliament on 24 June 2020 and introduce a number of changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (the "GPDO"). The majority of provisions come into force on 1 August 2020, but the Regulations relating to temporary changes of use introduced as part of the Government's response to COVID-19 have already come into force.


The Regulations have amended permitted development rights ("PDR") relating to "additional temporary use of land" (Class BA of Part 4 of Schedule 2 to the GPDO).

Currently, Class B of Part 4 of Schedule 2 to the GDPO authorises temporary changes of use of land for not more than 28 days in any calendar year (or 14 days if the temporary use involves the holding of a market or motor car/motorcycle racing). Class BA creates PDRs for such temporary change of use to continue for an additional 28 days (or 14 days) during the period between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020.

This change appears to be aimed at supporting the use of outdoor areas by cafes, pubs and restaurants as the COVID-19 lockdown eases. The UK Government's approach in England contrasts with the Scottish Government's approach - which has seen the Chief Planner and Planning Minister advise local planning authorities not to enforce the 28 day rule "against reasonable temporary outdoor uses, which may include temporary structures, should a longer period be appropriate and helpful to businesses."

The Regulations also create a new Class BA to Part 12 of Schedule 2, which authorises the use of land for the purposes of holding a market by or on behalf of a local authority (including the provision of moveable structures) during the period from 25 June 2020 until 23 March 2021. Again, this change appears to support measures to ease lockdown, while encouraging social interaction to be kept outdoors.

Residential Permitted Development

The Regulations create a new permitted development right (Part 20 Class A) for development consisting of works for the construction of up to two additional stores of new dwelling houses immediately above the existing topmost residential storey on a building which is a purpose-built detached block of flats.

This new PDR is heavily limited, in particular it does not apply to buildings used as a dwellinghouse pursuant to PDR’s or buildings of less than three storeys, and can only be used in relation to buildings constructed between 1 July 1948 and 5 March 2018. It is also subject to a number of conditions, including requiring the developer to obtain prior approval from the local planning authority on a number of matters. The PDR appears to be more similar to permission in principle than usual PDRs - while the principle of the development is accepted, most matters of detail require to be approved by the local planning authority.

The new Regulations also create a new requirement where existing PDRs are exercised for change of use of buildings to dwelling house for all "habitable rooms" to have adequate natural light. The aim being to improve the quality of new homes.

"Habitable rooms" are defined as “any rooms used or intended to be used for sleeping or living which are not solely used for cooking purposes, but does not include bath or toilet facilities, service rooms, corridors, laundry rooms, hallways or utility rooms”.

Where developers are utilising existing PDR for change of use to dwelling house they are required to apply to the local planning authority for a determination in relation to whether the authority's prior approval is required for a number of different matters. The new Regulations add "the provision of adequate natural light in all habitable rooms of the dwelling house" to this list of matters. Any such application will require to be accompanied by a floor plan indicating the dimensions and proposed use of each room, the position and dimensions of windows, doors and walls, and the elevation of the dwelling houses. The new Regulations also make it mandatory for the local planning authority to refuse prior approval if adequate natural light is not provided in all habitable rooms.

The importance of the role of the planning system in the UKs economic recovery was highlighted by the Prime Minister on the 30 June 2020 when he announced a new package of measures to build thousands of new homes as part of the government's Covid-19 recovery plan and said the measures would include the “most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War". The new measures introduced under the Regulations and the Business and Planning Bill will no doubt play a part in helping the economy get back on its feet. Hannah Mannion wrote a blog on the Bill last week.

If you have any queries about the new PDRs please get in touch.