The new right, called Class MA, comes into effect on 1 August 2021. It has the aim of aiding the housing crisis by helping address the increased demand for homes.
Class MA allows change of use for property under Class E (commercial, business and service) into Class C3 (residential homes). It also reintroduces the rights for conversion of light industrial premises into residential (previously Class PA, which expired in October 2020).
In short, it will mean commercial-property owners wishing to convert premises for residential use won’t need to apply for full planning permission (unless physical alterations are required for conversion). However, a prior-approval application will still need to be submitted to make sure criteria is still met.
The new right will not be available to those situated in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) or listed buildings. The prospective building must also have a cumulative floorspace of less than 1,500 sq m.
The government hopes the new right will help ease the pressure on the high demand for housing and provide a good way for landlords to generate income from unused or underproductive commercial property.