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Planning laws amended to make changes of use easier

Walter Roban (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Legislation allowing changes to building use to go ahead with less planning red tape has been approved in the House of Assembly.

The Development and Planning Amendment Act 2022 tabled earlier this month will revoke the Development and Planning (Use Classes) Order 1975, which Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs said was “extremely out of date”, and make way for an updated order, which would eliminate the need to apply for planning permission for some changes of use.

The Bill will also allow some orders to be subject to negative resolution procedures, allowing them to come into effect without being signed off by Parliament.

Mr Roban said: “A future change currently being developed will allow for ‘permitted changes of use’ to be introduced wherein planning permission will not be required to change between classes in certain limited instances.”

As an example, he said a restaurant could be changed to a shop without the need to apply for planning permission.

Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs and Home Affairs, expressed concerns that the legislation was removing safeguards put in place “to make sure we don’t get things wrong”.

Mr Roban said the scope of the legislation was very “narrow. “It is focused on commercial spaces that are already developed and defined,” he added.

“The biggest beneficiaries will be small businesses. This is going to be very good for them – it will help them to avoid initial planning requirements.”

He said any technical changes such as electrical alterations, building or partitions would still be subject to regular planning processes.

He said: “This is not going to remove the level of scrutiny at the technical level – this is about planning permission.”

Mr Roban added that agricultural land, open spaces or any large scale industrial areas would not be subject to the legislation.

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Published December 12, 2022 at 7:42 am (Updated December 12, 2022 at 7:42 am)

Planning laws amended to make changes of use easier

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