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Permitted Development rights - keep the noise down!

In late 2015, the permanent extension of Permitted Development Rights, allowing the conversion from office space to residential was announced. What had originally intended to be temporary measure to create use for empty or unviable commercial buildings, has proved a popular way to create new and in many cases much needed residential opportunities, usually in buildings that had served their commercial life to the full.

Some local authorities in Kent, including Sevenoaks and Ashford successfully obtained an exemption for part of their area. These exemptions last to May 2019 and the relevant local authorities will then have to make an Article 4 direction to obtain continued protection for those areas.

What is new is that local authorities will have to consider whether it is necessary to protect the new residential units from noise from surrounding commercial enterprises. Music venues have been mentioned as possibly being in need of protection from unreasonable restrictions on their day to day business operations.

Property developers now need to consider whether the neighbouring uses of other commercial buildings could become an issue when seeking to use the permanent Permitted Development Rights. The new rules will be subject to a periodical review in order to try and monitor the effect of the new rights.

Whilst the face of the high street has changed vastly in recent years, businesses that usually didn’t need to worry about upsetting their neighbours may now have to give this issue their attention. Developers may be put off certain developments where noise is likely to be a contentious issue to resolve which could make the disposal of some property more difficult.

Paul Burbidge can be reached at