Prior Approval for change of use has been granted, is a full planning application now an option?

Discussion in 'Development' started by Lee7, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. Lee7

    Lee7 New Member

    Hello everyone,

    We've just been granted Prior Approval for change of use from B1(c) to residential, to turn 2 former car workshop buildings into 4 small ground floor 1 bed apartments, of awkward sizes & shapes due to the shape of the current buildings. This would leave a large yard area of the site under-utilised, just for 3 or 4 parking spaces and some landscaping, bin & bike storage etc.

    We'd previously looked at submitting a full application to make the best use of the whole site; 3 much nicer, larger 2 bed apartments with private outdoor space and still room for 3 parking spaces etc. Due to overlooking constraints etc we couldn't use much more of the space for buildings so they'd still largely be on the same footprint, but two storey. However the council indicated at the pre-application stage that they'd have issues re: change of use due loss of employment, even though the site's run-down and all other formerly commercial sites around it have already been converted to residential.

    So we went for Prior Approval (Permitted Devlopment regulations) instead. It's been granted on the basis of just outlines of the apartments, so theoretically the next stage is to submit a full planning application to detail how we'd turn the current buildings into accommodation.

    My question is - now that the council can't prevent the site becoming residential, can we ask them to be pragmatic and allow the best use of the site, i.e. something similar to our original plans? Obiously this would mean submitting a new full planning application. Surely this makes more sense than them insisisting we build the smaller, uglier scheme which would house less people? What are the regulations / guidelines? How would we go about this, has anyone experienced a similar situation?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. SteveK

    SteveK New Member


    My understanding is that you can now go ahead and construct those new apartments once you get building regs approved, so no need for a full application for the prior approval scheme.
  3. Lee7

    Lee7 New Member

    The prior approval is based on plans we submitted which are literally just outlines of roughly how the current buildings would be divided into 4 small units. There's no detail re: new walls, windows, doors, materials etc. And the current buildings are basically useless, they'd have to be pretty much replaced with new structures within the current overall sizes. Also, the floor slopes upwards towards the year in the larger buildng so we want to level it, allowing a mezanine level for a bedroom at the rear of 3 of the units.
    Our experts have now told us all this would have to be covered in a full planning application to expand and add detail to the prior approval (i.e. rather than just being covered by building regs), is this right?
    We could sell now, or go through this stage then sell.

    Our other option is to go for a new 'from scratch' full planning application, ignoring the current buildings and making the best use of the whole site including the yard area. The footprint of the new buildings wouldn't be much bigger but the layout would be better and it should allow us to build 2 proper storeys throughout.
    Ideally we'd want to go for this option straight away (i.e. now) but our experts say it's unlikely to be granted unless we go through the intermediate stage above (expansion of the prior approval permission) first. Is this right?? Obviously we don't want to go through the cost (in time and money) of 2 further stages of planning if we could do it one.

    Any comments welcome! Also, does anyone know if it's possible to have (pay for?) an informal meeting with the council (Lewisham) to sound them out about which of the above options they'd be open to? We paid for our original pre-application submission but I suppose this would really just more of a discussion.
  4. diyhelp

    diyhelp Active Member

    All very interesting and I would like to hear how you get on.

    Rather than a chat with the council, I would look to see which property advisors in the past have worked closely with the council (and had success with planning applications) and approach them. They will likely have good contacts within the council and should be able to sound them out for you. I doubt an informal meeting with the council would be possible but I could be wrong.
  5. SteveK

    SteveK New Member


    I think I understand your situation.

    The lack of detail on the prior approval plans i.e. new doors and windows is because under permitted development you are not normally allowed to make such changes. You basically have to work with what is already there and make minimum external changes. Internally you can do pretty much what you like but I think adding a mezzanine floor would not be acceptable under pd.

    When considering a full application different aspects become material considerations which are not the case with a prior approval. These can include parking, bike and bin provisions, and others that you mention.

    You can arrange a meeting with planning department at a cost to discuss further or submit another pre-app.

    Time and money are the unknowns here in terms of a fresh full application.

    I would get building regs done on the prior approval even if you have no intention of doing the works as this will add value if you decide to sell.

    It may maybe that you simply cannot get approval from council to utilise the site in the way that you want. You can always appeal but this process can take up to a year.
  6. Longterminvestor

    Longterminvestor Administrator

    I presume that any level of planning approval would increase the value of the land and the amount of funding which could be raised against it?

    How were you planning to finance the development?

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