Changes to Permitted Development for Schools

Latest amendments to the Town and Country General Permitted Development Order (GPDO)

Changes to Permitted Development for Schools

Having previously been a local government planning officer for 12 years, I have taken it upon myself to continue my interest and provide advice to suit the needs of PSG and our clients. Due to the very nature of our work, it is vital that PSG needs to keep its finger on the pulse, when it comes to planning matters, as we are responsible, amongst others, for procuring and managing various projects that fall within the remit of planning.

For some, myself included, it is not unknown that planning legislation along with all the other supplementary documents is not, dare I say, particularly easy to read or indeed decipher due to the multiple parts, sections, classes and regular amendments.

Without seeking to overcomplicate this or even bore you, I will be focusing on a particular section of the recent amendments made to The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2013, which came into force on 6th April 2017. The amendments I shall be focusing on relate to Schools, as the maintenance and improvements of such facilities form a significant portion of our day-to-day roles.

For those who are not particularly au fait with planning terminology, Permitted Development is basically the term that is used to imply “development” (inclusive of a Use) that does NOT require planning permission. To ascertain whether something is Permitted Development or not, one must peruse the aforementioned Order and undertake a self-assessment against particular criteria within the relevant section. At this point, some may have lost the will, but for the sake of potentially saving hundreds or even thousands of pounds in unnecessary costs, I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough.

For your information, and as far as I am aware, most if not all local planning authorities now charge to provide formal advice on whether planning consent is required for a proposal via a Certificate of Lawfulness for Proposed Use and/or Development under Section 192 of The Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Of course, we are able to undertake these vital checks in-house and even submit an application for a Certificate should one chose. However, for any domestic projects that you are keen on pursuing for example, the planning portal provides the legislation in a much more simplistic format.

Part 7, Class M relating to the erection, extension or alteration of a school, college, university or hospital buildings.

Back to my point in case, up until April 2017, permitted development has allowed an extension to such premises up to:

  1. 25% of the gross floor space of the original school, college, university or hospital buildings; or
  2. 100 square metres,

whichever is the lesser.

These limits in respect of the cumulative gross floor space of any buildings erected, extended or altered have now been changed. The latter has been replaced by a limit of 250 square metres in the case of a school, and 100 square metres in all other cases. The limit still applies to the lesser of these two alternatives. These limits, much as before, are restricted by a set criteria which without going into more detail, can be viewed at The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2017. This amendment is applicable to all properties, which have been in-situ on or before 1st July 1948 as they would have been considered “original” from this point.

This amendment, in my view, provides a considerable scope to extend on the proviso that the school has not already been extended significantly. As such, I trust this snippet of advice has been sufficiently useful to familiarise you with some of the basics of the minefield that is planning, and what can be permissible without formal consent.

Naturally, we wish to provide the best value and service, which is why, as highlighted above, we regularly check for all the relevant statutory amendments. This may in-turn, save the client and PSG wasting unnecessary time and money on a project.

Nick Morgan

Trainee Building Surveyor