New regulations laid before Parliament amend the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) to bring into force several changes to PD rights for schools.
One regulation extends from one to two academic years the existing temporary right to use any property within the use classes for a state-funded school.
A second regulation introduces a new PD right allowing the building of temporary state-funded schools for up to three academic years "on a site which was previously used for specified commercial purposes but on which all buildings have been demolished".
A third increases the threshold for extensions to existing school buildings from 100 square metres to 250 square metres, as long as the extension does not exceed 25 per cent of the original building’s gross floorspace.
The measures were first promised by the government as part of its technical consultation on planning changes in February 2016.
The consultation document stated the government’s commitment "to opening at least 500 new state-funded free schools during this parliament, which could provide up to 270,000 new school places". It said it wanted to expand school PD rights "to support this ambition".
Existing PD rights, it said, "allow certain buildings to change use to a state-funded school, allow for extensions to be added to existing schools, and allow the temporary use of buildings as state-funded schools for up to one academic year, without the need to apply for planning permission".
The new measures "seek to ensure that where there is an identified need for school places, schools can open quickly on temporary sites and in temporary buildings while permanent sites are secured and developed".
The consultation document said that the government also intended "to allow larger extensions to be made to school buildings in certain cases without the need for a planning application".
The document added that approval must be sought from the relevant minister "before changing use of a building or land to a state-funded school for a single year", who must then notify the local authority.
For permanent changes of use to a state-funded school, "prior approval must be sought from the local planning authority as to highways, noise, and contamination impacts".
The changes to the GPDO, which also include a clarification to restrictions relating to home extensions, are due to come into force on 6 April.
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