New planning rights to make some development easier risk undermining local community and authority influence, says CPRE.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has said the ‘permitted development rights’ will be extended from 25 May to allow a range of high street buildings to be converted into other uses, including new housing, without having to apply for planning permission.
CPRE fears extending this policy will enable developers to convert shops and local businesses without any scrutiny, removing decisions or control from local authorities and giving local people little say over the type and tenure of developments on their high street.
Evidence shows that extending permitted development rights in this way results in an increase in poor quality housing in places that are not suitable for residential use. CPRE highlights that it will also result in fewer local employment opportunities, particularly in smaller communities, towns and villages.
In addition to extending permitted development rights from 25 May, MHCLG also intends to introduce permitted development rights to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes and to extend certain existing buildings upwards to deliver additional homes at a later stage.
Matt Thomson, Head of Planning at CPRE, said: “We welcome any reasonable measures that lead to the more effective use of previously developed land, and support the increased densification of urban areas. However, this plan is of deep concern. It presents a short-sighted attempt to increase housing numbers, undermines the planning system and ignores a variety of issues and complexities which should be taken into account for such proposals.
“A blanket approach for uncontrolled redevelopment of commercial buildings is unlikely to lead to good place-making. It remains unclear how extending permitted development rights will ensure high quality, affordable redevelopment – that connect with existing, and contributes to, new infrastructure – without the intervention of a normal planning application.”
CPRE believes in a strong plan-led system and therefore objects to blanket approaches of permitted development rights that undermines communities’ ability to achieve decent homes that local people can afford.