Rethink on permitted development rights called for.

The Construction Industry Council says turning shops and offices into homes without any planning controls is a recipe for disaster.

Government proposals to extend so-called permitted development rights, which will allow more premises to bypass normal planning procedures and be turned into homes, need greater safeguards.

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) represents most of the industry’s professional bodies, societies and research organisations. (The Institution of Civil Engineers is the only major organisation that chooses not to take part). The CIC has set out its concerns in its response to the Ministry of Housing’s consultation, Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.

CIC said the proposals could alienate communities by allowing inappropriate development to be foisted on them, while not making any contribution to local infrastructure. The CIC also expressed concerns over quality and safety standards and the longer term impact on areas by providing easier routes to deliver new homes without proper regard for placemaking and amenity space.

CIC has called for additional safeguards that:

  • Introduce more prior approval conditions (conditions that would be required to receive traditional planning consent) as part of the permitted development process. These should ensure that space, quality and safety are considered in relation to existing infrastructure and that they comply with the requirements covering materials, amenities and public realm that have been set out in local plans.
  • Ensure permitted development rights do not let developers evade community infrastructure levy or Section 106 obligations.
  • Ensure that the homes delivered through permitted development are covered by the new building safety legislation and Future Homes standard.

Tony Crook, CIC housing panel chair, said: “This whole area will need more clarity. Space, quality standards and safety are all areas of concern to us, as is the fact that permitted development does not allow the knitting together of the necessary infrastructure”.

“At a time when local resources are stretched, and will become even more so as councils count the cost of the pandemic, we see no reason why permitted development should be an exception to the principle of delivering sufficient infrastructure alongside new housing”.