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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 24/04/2002
Use Classes Order - Consultation on Possible Changes to the Use Classes Order and Temporary Uses Provisions

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[Wards Affected: N/A]
Summary and Purpose

The Planning Green Paper reported to the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 19th February 2002 set out the Government’s proposals for reforming the planning system. The Green Paper announced the intention to review the Use Classes Order to ensure that it is constructed in a way, which allows “the maximum possible deregulation consistent with delivering planning policy objectives”.

This report, which was also considered by the Executive at its meeting on 9th April 2002, sets out the details of the consultation paper produced by the DTLR on the Use Classes Order. It sets out the findings of the research commissioned by DTLR led by Baker Associates. The consultation paper is quite lengthy and detailed and seeks views on whether changes are desirable to the current provisions and includes possible options for change. Questions are asked after each section in the paper. Views are sought by 24th April 2002.

1. Planning permission is required for the material change of use of buildings and land. However, certain uses are so similar in land-use planning terms – for example, noise, traffic generation, visual appearance and parking – that an application for planning permission to change between them might be considered overly burdensome. In order to relieve the planning system of a large number of unnecessary applications, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 excludes from the definition of development, and hence from planning control, any change of use where both existing and proposed uses fall within one class in an Order made by the Secretary of State.

2. The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) (UCO) sets out classes of uses. The UCO provides that a move between activities within the same class is not development and, therefore, does not require planning permission. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended) (GPDO) provides further flexibility by classifying certain moves between the Use Classes as permitted development, which similarly does not require express planning permission.

Summary of Proposals and Draft Responses

The key proposals are summarised in Annexe 1 to this report with a draft response below each heading in bold italics.

Overall Approach

4. The requirement that planning permission be obtained before development can be undertaken is a regulatory mechanism. Intervention in the development process by the local planning authority is justified on the grounds that it is in the public interest. However, the UCO and GPDO are intended to be deregulatory mechanisms that work by lessening the regulatory requirements of the planning system. They work on the basis of a balance to be struck between market freedoms and the need for control of certain types of activity. It is stated that by allowing such deregulation, the resources available for the operation of the planning system are able to be deployed efficiently to achieve the greatest benefit.

5. In line with recent Executive guidance, the officers’ suggest that the main issues emerging from this paper are as follows:

• The proposed changes are not easy to understand and there is doubt that they will lead to improved clarity in terms of operation

• It is uncertain that the proposed changes protect or enhance environmental quality

• There is concern with retail and financial and professional services being merged into one use, as this could lead to an oversupply of financial and professional services in an area, with the resultant loss of variety and mix of uses.

• The splitting of office and research and development from light industry (clean production) is favoured and it is considered would be more likely to help with the policy objectives by being able to exercise more control over where offices and R&D uses are located.

At present the ability to change from light industrial use to office has resulted in the provision of office accommodation with greater parking requirements and car usage being located in and out of town locations away from transport links.

• A further area that should be given consideration is to introduce a separate Use Class for affordable dwellings. There is reference to this in the consultation paper on Planning Obligations.

• The permitted development provisions for temporary uses generally do not cause a problem in Waverley. There is, however, the potential for difficulties. Option 4 (reduce the number of days to seven a year rather than 14 for the more potentially harmful activities) is favoured as it introduces further safeguarding control but would still allow some flexibility and the operation of certain more one-off events without the complication of having to seek planning permission.


6. Officers support the review of the Use Classes Order but are not convinced the consultation document improves upon the clarity or the planning merits of the existing document. It would have been preferable if the provisions could have been simplified but, due to the nature of different uses and their different, potentially harmful, impacts, this has proved difficult for the consultation paper authors. It will be important to ensure that any new use categories or changes to the categories are accurately defined.

7. It appears that the researchers have struggled with the review and have not proposed any radical changes. The Government has set out its objectives in each section but, in certain areas, it is not entirely clear that the options proposed meet the objectives any more effectively than the present provisions. 8. The proposals are difficult to assess in terms of impact on Waverley’s towns and villages given the matrix of options suggested in the paper. However, it may sufficient to comment that the Council would be concerned about any proposed changes to the use classes that might threaten the viability and attractiveness of its town and village centres.

9. The opportunity to comment on the options is welcomed and it is considered that there are certain improvements from the Local Authority viewpoint that can be made.

Comments of the Council’s Executive Committee.

10. The Executive Committee considered the Government's consultation document on the 9th April 2002. It agreed with the officers’ comments and particularly endorsed the comments relating to separate use classes for nightclub and social housing.

Human Rights Implications

11. The Consultation Paper does not raise any human rights implications.

Community Safety Implications

12. The Consultation Paper does not raise any community safety implications.

Resource/Environmental implications

13. This is a consultation document for comment so there are no immediate implications from the proposals contained within it.

"Opportunities for All" implications

14. There are no “Opportunities for All” implications.


It is recommended that:

1. the Committee notes the response agreed by the Executive, which has been forwarded to the DTLR; and

2. the Committee agrees any additional comments and observations it would also wish to pass to the DTLR.

Background Papers (DoP&D)

(Use Classes Order – consultation on possible changes to the Use Classes Order and Temporary Uses Provisions. Published by DTLR).


Name: Mr B Titmuss Telephone: 01483 523286
E-mail: btitmuss@waverley.gov.uk

comms/O&S3/2001-02/078 27103