As the coronavirus lockdown took hold across the country, many buildings were repurposed to aid the fight of the virus. From London’s Excel Centre transforming into the first Nightingale Hospital to hotels turning into accommodation for key workers and car parks becoming testing centres, the world adapted fast.
Now, new government guidance has offered the security that investors and owners need regarding what will happen to these spaces post-coronavirus. Earlier this year, a PDR (Permitted Development Rights) was introduced to near universal support outlining that councils and local authorities will be able to turn buildings back to their original use without needing additional planning permission.
The Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Coronavirus England Amendment Order 2020 came into effect on 9th April and allows owners and investors the peace of mind to hand over their assets to the authorities knowing they could be returned back to their original use when appropriate.
PDR’s are normally used for minor projects such as home extensions outside of conservation areas and converting offices into apartments, however the remit of the new legislation is much more extensive than any of the ones that came before it.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic it’s almost impossible to know exactly what developments might be needed in the future and on what scale. Whilst the new PDR is good news for investors who may be worried about the legalities of transforming repurposed assets back, there are a few exclusions. Development won’t be able to take place in a military explosive storage area or sites of specific scientific interest for example.
The new PDR will also be time-limited until 31st December 2020, suggesting that the rights are only likely to be actioned in relation to Covid-19 developments. Whilst the PDR protects assets it also helps to aid the repurposing to begin with by covering the legalities surrounding permission to transform commercial buildings into temporary hospitals.
Whilst it’s unlikely that local authorities would have taken action against potential planning infringements, the PDR offers building owners and investors the security to know their property can legally be repurposed and later turned back, allowing more people and businesses to enter into the Covid-19 fight without having to worry about potential repercussions.