HL Deb 16 June 1986 vol 476 cc718-20WA
Lord Brougham and Vaux

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made with their review of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order.

Lord Elton

We are grateful to all those who commented on the proposals for the revision of the order which were made by the sub-group of the Property Advisory Group. We are publishing today a consultation paper which sets out our own proposals for the modernisation of the order; it takes full account of all the views expressed to us.

Modernising the order will reduce the need for planning applications, but retain effective control over changes of use where that is needed because of their environmental consequences or relationship with other uses.

The major changes by which we propose to modernise the order will allow more flexible use of business premises. For example, they would create a new business class by merging the present light industrial use class with office uses other than those which provide professional and financial services to customers who visit the premises; this will help commercial and industrial activities which at present straddle the boundary between two classes. In addition we propose to amend the Housing and Planning Bill to make it clear that sub-division of non-domestic premises does not constitute a change of use and does not require planning permission. These changes will give greater freedom to industry to. undertake development and create jobs without endangering amenity.

We consider that we should keep the existing shops class and add to it certain similar uses which are at present excluded. We propose, however, to create two new classes; one would consist of shops selling hot food, restaurants, snack bars, cafes, public houses and similar establishments; the other would be for financial and professional services offered direct to the public visiting the premises. We propose to amend the General Development Order to make it possible to shift use from either of these two new classes to the expanded shops class without getting specific permission. But permission would still be needed for shifting use in the other direction. This would enable local planning authorities to continue to protect the character of existing shopping areas.

We have already clarified the quite wide circumstances in which under the present law people can work at home without any need to seek specific planning permission from the local planning authority. Guidance on this is given in our publication A Step by Step Guide to Planning Permission for Small Businesses published in March this year. We do not propose to make any amendment to the Use Classes Order on this point.

Full details of the proposals to modernise the order are in the consultation paper published today. Copies have been placed in the Library. Copies are also being sent today to the local authority associations and other interested bodies with the request that they should send any comments which they may have on the proposals to the department by 15th September.