Government planning policy that has gone horribly wrong.

It is now revealed that over 13,500 affordable homes have been lost due to a Government diktat that allowed office conversions.

We all knew it was a crap policy from the outset when the Government changed planning rules. 

Now it’s an official crap policy.

The experts say that the planning policy introduced four years ago is not only not contributing to the provision of affordable homes, the homes built are sub-standard, and there is no 106 contribution! Daft or what? So lose, lose, lose all round?
Over 13,500 affordable homes lost due to PD office conversions, says Local Government Association.

 Numerous offices and shops in the borough of Waverley have been lost to such conversions.

In Haslemere, Waverley Planners invoked an Article 4 direction, a planning mechanism, to stop the continued loss of valuable office and retail space, and is taking a tough-line on conversions elsewhere.

Will converting shops and offices to residential be prevented in, ALL our towns and villages, by ‘Your Waverley?’

10 January 2020 by David Blackman

More than 13,500 affordable homes have been lost over the past four years as a result of developers using permitted development (PD) rights to sidestep planning permission for office to residential conversions, the Local Government Association (LGA) has calculated.

An residential scheme in Croydon converted from offices under PD rights.

A residential scheme in Croydon converted from offices under PD rights.

Latest figures from the MHCLG show that since 2015, 54,162 new homes were converted from offices under PD rights in England.

The new analysis, published by the LGA, estimates that 13,540 affordable homes have been lost that would otherwise have been delivered if these homes had been built.

This is based on an ‘indicative’ council affordable housing requirement of 25 per cent on new residential developments.

A spokesman for the LGA said the council umbrella body had chosen 25 per cent as its indicative figure because councils’ affordable housing requirements on new developments usually vary between this level and 40 per cent.

Under the PD rights regime, there is no requirement for developers to meet local authority affordable housing requirements, nor a host of other policies such as those governing minimum space standards.

The LGA analysis also shows that while PD right conversions amount to six per cent of all new homes delivered nationally, in some areas a significantly high proportion of new housing is office-to-residential conversions.

It says that last year (2018/19), more than half (51 per cent) of all new homes in Harlow were office conversions, with 48 per cent in Norwich and 43 per cent in the Hertfordshire district council of Three Rivers.

Over a third of new housing in Spelthorne (39 per cent) and Slough (35 per cent) were also converted from offices, the LGA said.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “Serious concerns remain over the high numbers of homes which continue to be converted from offices without planning permission.

“Permitted development rules are resulting in the alarming potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.”

Renard said it was “vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process and are able to oversee all local developments” and called for the government to scrap PD rules.

An MHCLG spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering a million new homes by the end of this parliament, and permitted development rights are playing an important part in making our ambitious commitment a reality.”

The LGA study is the latest in a series of critical reports on the impact of residential PD rights, which were introduced by the coalition government with the aim of speeding up the conversion of under-used and derelict commercial and industrial space into housing.

Research carried out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors two years ago found that 70 per cent of the new homes delivered through the PD rights regime do not meet minimum space standards, and around 90 per cent lacked access to open space.

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