Councils’ challenge in respect of permitted development rights legislation fails

Author: Mark Harnett

In a judgment issued just before Christmas, the High Court rejected a challenge brought by a consortium of London local authorities to the process for granting exemptions to the permitted development right to change offices to residential use that was introduced by the Government earlier last year. While the High Court expressed some reservations about the way in which the Government dealt with the process for applying for exemptions, it decided that it was not so unfair as to be unlawful in terms of both the time allowed for applications for exemptions to be made and the amount of information provided to local authorities about how their applications would be assessed.

In the light of the High Court decision, the Government will not be required to review the permitted development rights legislation or the granting of exemptions. The right to change from office use to residential will therefore continue to apply in all areas where exemptions have not been granted by the Government up to 30 May 2016 unless local authorities introduce their own regulations (known as article 4 directions) to remove the rights. A number of local authorities have already announced plans to introduce such a direction.

Mark Harnett, Partner, Fladgate LLP (

Susanna Weatherstone, Solicitor, Fladgate LLP (

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