If you own your surgery premises, you ought to be aware of the recently announced changes to the Planning Regulations.
The new planning regulations come into force on 1 September 2020 and are intended to reduce red tape and speed up development. One change is that GP Surgeries which currently operate under Use Class D1 will be re-designated as new Use Class E(e)… but what does that actually mean for you?
The most significant change lies in all the other uses which now form part of Use Class E (see the full list at the end of this article). From 1 September 2020, any premises with a Use Class E permission is permitted to change to any other use within Class E without having to obtain a new planning permission. This change applies to existing premises as well as new ones.
For GP Surgeries, this means that you could switch the use of your surgery premises from surgery to retail, offices, professional services or as a crèche (as just some examples) without necessarily having to apply to your local authority for a planning permission for change of use.
Wider opportunities for alternative uses may widen the potential pool of buyers which in turn, could increase value (at least for those premises that are at the end of their useful life as a surgery and are to be sold on for different purposes). We will have to wait and see the full implications of this change.
Even if you are not currently thinking of selling your premises, you could still benefit from the changes. It will be easier for you to use part of the surgery premises for another use Class E – for example if you wanted to change part of your existing premises into a pharmacy or community café.
A word of caution
Whilst the changes could prove to give a lot of flexibility to property owners going forward, it is important to remember there are other restrictions that could limit how you can use your property. Your Planning permission could contain particular conditions which may limit the use of the property, and may override the changes permitted under the new Regulations. Associated building works may require their own independent planning permission and covenants on the legal title to the property may impose specific restrictions as to use which you may need to deal with. It is advisable to seek professional advice and undertake careful due diligence on all these areas prior to making a significant change to your property, or indeed if you are buying into surgery premises hoping to take advantage to the flexibility that these new Regulations offer going forward.
Finally, a note of warning to any Landlord’s out there – you will need to take particular care when agreeing lease terms with your tenant, to ensure you do not inadvertently give your tenant the ability to take advantage of the flexibility afforded by the new Regulations without safeguarding your investment.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions about your surgery premises or running your practice. Call Daphne Robertson on 01483 511555 or email [email protected]
“Class E. Commercial, Business and Service
Use, or part use, for all or any of the following purposes:-
(a) for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public,
(b) for the sale of food and drink principally to visiting members of the public where consumption of that food and drink is mostly undertaken on the premises,
(c) for the provision of the following kinds of services principally to visiting members of the public:
(i) financial services,
(ii) professional services (other than health or medical services), or
(iii) any other services which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality,
(d) for indoor sport, recreation or fitness, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms, principally to visiting members of the public,
(e) for the provision of medical or health services, principally to visiting members of the public, except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practitioner,
(f) for a creche, day nursery or day centre, not including a residential use, principally to visiting members of the public,
(i) an office to carry out any operational or administrative functions,
(ii) the research and development of products or processes, or
(iii) any industrial process,
being a use, which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.