Retail / Professional Services to Residential Conversions

Retail to Residential Permitted Development

The latest changes to the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (Schedule 2, Part 3, Class M) incorporate a permanent provision for retail and professional service units to be changed to residential use, with certain limitations.

The limitations are summarised below:

  1. The proposed building must have been in use as a shop (A1) or professional service (A2) on or before the 20th March 2013. If the unit was vacant on the 20th March, proof will need to be given to confirm the last known use.
  2. The cumulative floor space of the existing building changing use cannot exceed 150m2; (why is it cumulative, not just total?) that's the terminology in the regulations.
  3. the development, together with any previous development using this provision, cannot result in more than 150 square metres of floor space in the building having changed use under that class (M).
  4. No extensions are permitted.
  5. Buildings which are listed or within Conservation Areas are excluded.

Retail / Professional Services to Residential Conversions Deadline

This provision does not mean
permitted development rights are granted by default. To the contrary, applicants still need to apply for Prior Approval from their Local Planning Authority. The main considerations are:

  1. loss of retail or service function;
  2. traffic;
  3. contamination; and
  4. design and the external appearance of the building.

The Prior Approval process lasts a total of
56 days. The initial consultation period is 21 days and adjacent properties are notified. After 56 days, the council will notify as to whether the application is granted or refused. There is no longer a completion date for applications.

Planning flexibility

In summary, the government intends this to allow for more flexibility to convert commercial properties into residential use.

The reality is that the restrictions and considerations mean there are plenty of reasons for Local planning authorities to refuse to grant Prior Approval. There is of course still the right of appeal.


WEA Planning has submitted similar Prior Approval applications in some of the toughest-to-deal-with boroughs in London. We can assist with professional services to residential conversions planning schemes in any West London borough.

Please contact us to discuss your proposals.


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