Consultation on Permitted Development Rights

The government recently undertook a consultation on new permitted development rights enabling increased change of use from commercial buildings to new homes without the need for full planning permission.

We are pleased to see our engagement with DCMS and MHCLG around the importance of protecting theatres and other culture venues has led to the commitment to exclude them from Permitted Development Rights. We welcomed this and the requirement for noise impacts to be assessed in our consultation response, however we also raised concerns that the government’s proposals could negatively impact theatres through lack of consideration of the wider impacts of development.   

In particular, we are keen to ensure that it is not just theatre buildings themselves and their performances that are considered, but also that necessary access and servicing is not compromised. Deregulation to enable easier conversion would also restrict the ability to ensure development does not negatively impact on the setting of listed buildings and conservation areas; a number of theatres are significant and sensitive heritage assets. 

More broadly and in common with other bodies we are also concerned that change of use could harm the wider ecosystem of commercial, cultural and retail uses in particular areas which could in turn lead to reduced footfall and further decline. Therefore, we advocated restrictions on conversion of ground floor spaces and sites within conservation areas.

We continue to engage with the government around this and wider planning reform proposals.