New holiday lets to require planning permission

Proposed changes to the planning system will create a new use class, Use Class C5 for holiday lets. Read our blog post to find out what this could mean for you.

2/21/20242 min read

a group of houses next to a body of water
a group of houses next to a body of water

Following recent announcements that Permitted Development Rights for commercial conversions are to be loosened (see our blog post here) and a consultation was launched on changing householder Permitted Development Rights, Michael Gove has announced proposals to require short-term holiday lets to require planning permission.

Currently, most small holiday-lets are considered to fall under the relatively wide Use Class C3, which includes family homes. Some Councils take a more flexible approach to holiday-let accommodation and allow planning permission to be granted for holiday-lets in locations where they wouldn't usually grant them. For example, they could be further away from shops or schools. This is usually on the basis that the holiday-let will provide a boost to tourism in the area, bringing with it economic benefits.

On the other hand some Councils (and communities) take a much more restrictive approach to holiday let accommodation, as feel it takes away from the housing stock of an area, making these areas even more unaffordable for local residents. These concerns are often felt most in seaside locations, with Neighbourhood Plans in these areas ensuring that new homes can only be sold to people that live their as their sole residence (see Burnham Market (Norfolk), Southwold (Suffolk) and St Ives (Cornwall) as just three examples). However, whilst they can control what happens to new housing stock, they are currently powerless to stop existing houses being used as holiday lets, as they often both fall within Use Class C3, and no planning permission is required for the change.

Michael Gove's proposal is to create a new Use Class for short-term holiday lets, with the change of use from C3 uses to a holiday-let requiring planning permission. It is proposed that existing holiday-lets will automatically be moved into this new use (Use Class C5), and Permitted Development Rights will allow properties to change from homes to holiday lets without the need for planning permission. However, there are two ways in which Councils can stop homes being used as holiday lets.

Firstly, Councils can introduce an Article 4 Direction which would block these Permitted Development Rights. These designations need to be signed off by the Secretary of State, and need to be based on robust evidence and cover the smallest geographical area possible. In areas covered by these directions, planning permission would be required for the change of use from a house (Use Class C3) to holiday let (Use Class C5).

Secondly, when granting planning permission to new residential dwellings (Use Class C3) where a holiday-let would be unwelcome, the Council can grant planning permission, but remove Permitted Development Rights. This would work in a similar fashion to an Article 4 Direction, requiring property owners to achieve planning permission to use the property as a holiday let.

The proposed changes are likely to receive support from coastal communities who feel holiday-lets offer little to their community, especially in the quieter months. But, to make a meaningful impact this policy needs to work alongside the building of enough new homes to meet demand, whilst balancing the environmental constraints located in many of these communities.