What is Class ZA?

What is the Class ZA PD right?

In the last 12 months, the government has updated permitted development rights in England & Wales, but why? And how does everyone benefit?


Building with Flats in



Covid-19 has seen a change in our societal habits such as the way we work, live and behave socially. The emphasis on working from home has created a void in the commercial property market. Office blocks and light industrial units are no longer being used to their full capacity. Many businesses are even considering this to be a permanent move. The Times reported this month that ASDA head office staff will be permanently given the option to work from home under a “work where it works” strategy.

Much in the media has been discussed, “what does this means for our towns and cities?”

The government has implemented measures to keep the residential market afloat, but less publicly has sought to utilise the empty buildings left behind by the working from home trend.


Permitted Development Rights 

PD rights are well known amongst homeowners for improving their homes without the rigmarole of full planning permission applications. In the commercial sector PD rights have been largely avoided by residential developers. Despite the residential boom in the pandemic, the lack of choice in viable sites and higher prices has caused new issues. One option open to property entrepreneurs in August 2021 is Class MA, which allows the conversion of commercial properties to residential use.

However, Class MA only applies to buildings that can be converted to residential. Sometimes the layout or external building envelope can restrict the viability of creating good quality homes.

There is another option available to developers…


Class ZA

Class ZA is a permitted development right that seeks to take advantage of disused commercial buildings and disused blocks of flats by demolishing and rebuilding new residential dwellings. The commercial properties must fall under a block of flats or B1 use class to qualify which includes offices, light industrial and research buildings.

Once demolished, the property can be converted into a detached house or a new block of flats. This is a great option in densely populated areas.



As with most permitted development rights there are strict rules to adhere to Class ZA. These include size, location and age. It is important to refer to the legislation before submitting prior approval on your next project.

  • The existing building must be no bigger than 1,000m2.
  • The maximum height of the existing building is 18m, including any satellites or transmitters mounted to the top.
  • The original building must have been constructed before 31st March 1989.
  • You must demolish the whole building and not multiple buildings.
  • The new property must be no higher than 18m tall.
  • The existing property must not be listed.
  • The area must not be in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) or a special site of scientific interest (SSSI)


Finding Class ZA opportunities 

The vacant building overlay in Nimbus Maps is the perfect tool to locate vacant commercial buildings that would suit demolition and rebuilding under the new Class ZA. The overlay precisely pinpoints the buildings on a map showing their footprint and size. Each building is colour coded to provide you with information on how long the properties have been vacant for. Each time a search is made you can even refine the usage of the building and square footage.

Even if you are a local property expert and aware of vacant buildings in your vicinity you might not know who owns the buildings. Nimbus Maps can even connect you to the owner by giving you the records within the click of a mouse.

To start your Class ZA venture now, book a free demonstration of Nimbus Maps today!

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