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Residential Units above the shop: Implications for an investor of the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 – “Living above the shop” planning exemptions.

Kelly Bradshaw Dalton have set out below some points in relation to the exemptions available, which have been extended to 31 December 2025:

  1. Exemption from Standard Planning Requirements: The law provides exemptions from standard planning processes for certain types of development. Specifically, it allows for a change of use to residential use from commercial classes (Class 1, 2, 3, or 6) to be considered exempted development, provided specific conditions are met. This exemption could significantly streamline the process of converting commercial properties into residential ones.
  2. Time-Bound Opportunity: The exemptions are applicable during a specified ‘relevant period’, have been extended to 31 December 2025. Investors need to be aware of this timeframe, as developments must be commenced and completed within this period to benefit from the exemptions.
  3. Limitations on the Scope of Work: The law imposes restrictions on the nature of the development work:
    • Interior-focused: The development should primarily involve internal modifications, with minimal impact on the external appearance of the building.
    • No Conflict with Local Plans: The development should not conflict with local authority development plans, particularly concerning the use of ground floor areas in retail zones.
    • Maximum Residential Units: There is a cap on the number of residential units (no more than 9) that can be developed in a single structure.
  4. Design and Quality Standards: Developments must adhere to specific design and quality standards. This includes minimum floor area and storage space requirements, as well as ensuring adequate natural lighting in habitable rooms. These standards align with the guidelines issued under section 28 of the Act.
  5. Notification Requirement: Investors must notify the local planning authority in writing at least 2 weeks prior to commencing the proposed development. This notification should include details like the location of the structure and specifics of the residential units being developed.
  6. Exclusions: Certain types of buildings or areas are excluded from these exemptions. This includes protected structures, areas under special planning control, and locations near establishments subject to Major Accident Regulations.
  7. Compliance with Existing Permissions: The development must not contravene any conditions attached to existing planning permissions and must be consistent with authorized uses.

Understanding these points is crucial for investors as they provide opportunities for development while outlining the regulatory framework that must be navigated for successful and compliant investment activities.

The text of the Act can be found here: