Permitted development ‘should be banned’ says Stevenage council leader Sharon Taylor amid further deregulation

Permitted development rights are set to be extended in the autumn. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Permitted development rights are set to be extended in the autumn. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Planning law that allows developers to convert empty offices into residential property without planning permission is set to be extended in the autumn – a move which has been condemned by Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor.

A proposed extension of permitted development rights will now allow developers to convert commercial and retail buildings into housing without a planning application.

In an announcement this week, housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP said that, from September, all commercial units – except pubs, libraries, village shops and other ‘essential’ buildings – can be converted to residential accommodation without seeking local government approval.

Councillor Sharon Taylor has dismissed the idea as “disastrous” and said the whole concept of permitted development rights – which came into force in 2013 – “should be banned.”

Cllr Taylor said: “Taking commercial space and converting it to residential with no planning needed, takes jobs from our communities and creates additional pressure on infrastructure, roads, schools, medical services – and without developers having to make any contribution.


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“It removes the local voice on planning and allows development without regard to local design standards or space standards. Far from the government’s wish to expand this disastrous regime, it should be banned.”

In theory, the extension will give developers a clear path to knocking down shops and converting them to residential units without consultation at local government level.

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Research carried out by the University of London also found that existing ‘office-to-home’ conversions create mostly “worse quality residential environments than planning permission conversions” and may have affected the health, wellbeing and quality of life for renters in the UK.

Robert Jenrick MP said: “We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy. These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities.

“It will mean that families can add up to two storeys to their home, providing much needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows.”

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