The critics of permitted development rights

1 February 2019

The recent Government consultation on extending permitted development rights has been subject to criticism from a number of industry groups

Consultations have recently closed for the proposed changes to permitted development (PD) rights, and the spotlight has shone particularly bright on PD rights for residential development. Using PD rights to boost house building is not a new idea for the Government, with rights given to developers to convert offices (B1(a)) into residential units (C3) in 2013, yet these latest proposals have sparked controversy across the industry.

The main changes, designed to increase the housing supply, are the proposals to allow PD rights for the demolition of commercial properties to be rebuilt for residential use, and for residential upward extensions. Both of which have been designed to create new homes without going through the full planning process.

While many will look favourably on measures like these as an ‘easy win’ to alleviate the UK housing crisis, they have also attracted widespread criticism. The RTPI expressed concerns in an open letter to Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, with signatories from the Town and Country Planning Association, Local Government Association, Royal Institute of British Architects, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Shelter, among others.

Concerns were voiced by these groups about the effect PD rights have already had on affordable housing. It was suggested that more than 10,000 affordable homes have potentially been lost in the last three years, with just 6,463 social rent homes being delivered last year, despite 1.2 million households on council housing waiting lists. The letter directly cites PD rights for office to residential conversion as a contributing factor to the lack of new affordable homes, with minimal scrutiny required and no need to contribute to the affordable housing stock by bypassing the planning system.

Concerns have also been raised that the lack of scrutiny has also led to a fall in the quality and design standard of homes. The signatories consider that the additional PD rights will only exacerbate these issues, and they urge the Government to ‘instead focus on delivering the affordable, high quality homes that people want and need through the local planning process’.

Planning Potential will continue to keep clients updated on the new changes to PD rights as they are implemented. For more information, contact us on [email protected].