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Town centre can benefit from ‘change of use’ plan

Created on 18/04/2021 @ 09:54


Businesses and property owners in Welshpool should take advantage of temporary permitted development rights due to be brought in at the end of April.

The temporary planning rules being introduced by the Welsh Government will help many small businesses, traders and entrepreneurs, particularly in rural Wales, to trial new business ventures or temporarily adapt existing ones as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Towns such as Welshpool and Newtown could all benefit.

That’s the message from Doug Hughes, Managing Director and Principal Architect at Hughes Architects which has offices in Newtown, Welshpool and Aberystwyth in Mid Wales.

The Welsh Government announced temporary changes to certain planning development rights last week as part of the Town and Country Planning Order 1995. They will come into force from 30 April for at least a year.

Change of use can take place for up to six months from the date the development began and must end by 29 April 2022.

However, planning permission can be applied to retain the change of use permanently during this period.

“The principal aim is to help reinvigorate town centres. By temporarily relaxing planning controls the Welsh Government is hoping existing and new businesses will be able to adapt properties and premises,” said Mr Hughes, an experienced architect and planning consultant.

“For example, in town centres it means retail and commercial premises can change their use much easier, albeit for a temporary period. For example, instead of being confined to Class C A1 (shops), such properties can change their use to A2, financial and professional services; A3, food and drink; B1, Business, etc.

“Previously, this could be quite a long and drawn-out process in terms of planning permission. What it means is that, for a temporary period, premises that might be empty or where businesses want to experiment with new ventures, they can easily adapt without going through the planning process.”

Mr Hughes said this would provide a lifeline to many town centres, particularly in rural communities such as Powys and Ceredigion, which have been hard hit by the pandemic.

“What’s interesting is that if a business is thriving following the temporary change of use, and there is no adverse impact from a planning perspective, the Welsh Government has said local authorities can use this evidence to support a permanent change of use.”

The temporary changes also apply to land, markets and hospitality. For example, landowners can set up pop-up campsites and place moveable structures into them. 

Hospitality outlets can add awnings to buildings to help support outdoor eating or takeaway functions.

Mr Hughes said his team were happy to talk to businesses and individuals seeking such measures.

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