More than 18,000 affordable homes have been lost since 2015 because of Permitted Development rights, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Permitted Development (PD) can help homeowners avoid the need to apply for planning permission for certain home improvements, and the extension of PD in 2013 led to a new right being introduced which allowed for the conversion of commercial or office buildings into housing without planning approval.
Government figures show that 73,575 houses have been converted from offices under PD since 2015 (when records first became available). But unlike with most new developments, where councils must ensure delivery of a certain percentage of affordable homes, this requirement does not apply to office-to-residential conversions.
The LGA, which represents 350 councils in England and Wales, says that based on a typical requirement that 25% of new developments are affordable, this means that 18,000 affordable homes have therefore been lost due to office-to-residential conversions.
“There is a need for more affordable housing across the country, but regrettably premises such as offices, agricultural buildings, shops, restaurants and light industry can now be converted into houses without the need to provide any affordable homes,” said David Renard, housing spokesperson for the LGA.
LGA Wants PD Rights Removed
The LGA has called for this PD right to be scrapped and for all new developments to contribute to the delivery of affordable homes in England and Wales. It adds that developments which go through the planning permission system are subject to more stringent quality checks, leading to better quality housing.
Cllr Renard added: “This is why we would like to see the permitted development rights removed. Giving planning powers back to councils will also support local ambitions to revive and reimagine high streets and town centres.
“A local, plan-led system is crucial in delivering on levelling up ambitions to ensure councils can deliver the right types of homes in the right places with appropriate infrastructure, ensuring a mix of high-quality affordable housing that meets the needs of local communities, while also giving those communities the opportunity to shape and define the area they live in.”
However a spokesperson for the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) defended the expansion of PD rights, and said the LGA’s analysis "assumes without evidence that every PDR office conversion would otherwise have been delivered through traditional planning routes”.
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Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.