Proposal to protect office space in Bath
Bath & North East Somerset Council has been consulting on plans to help protect office space in central Bath, and interested parties have until Monday 16 April to comment on their proposals.
In May 2013, national permitted development rights were amended to allow the change of use of offices to residential to be assessed through a ‘prior approval’ process rather than through the normal planning permission process. This meant that councils were now only able to consider a narrow range of specified issues when deciding whether to allow such a change of use. These issues do not include the contribution that the office plays to the local or to the wider economy, or to the character of the area.
Since the introduction of ‘prior approval’ permitted development rights in 2013, there has been a significant loss of office space in Central Bath. This has included high-quality and occupied stock. The Council is concerned that this trend will continue if the rules on conversion to residential remain relaxed.
The Council made an Article 4 Direction on 25 January 2018 to withdraw permitted development rights for the Change of Use from Office (Class B1) to Residential uses (Class C3) in parts of the city centre. The Council has made an Article 4 direction to ensure that any such development could be considered through the normal planning application process and against the development policies in the Council’s local plan documents. The Direction could come into force from March 2019.
The proposed boundary of the Article 4 Direction is shown on the map below, and to view and comment on the consultation please visit the Council webpage.