The relaxation of Permitted Development rights has been criticised in a new report for facilitating the creation of poorly-designed homes.
The Building Better, Building Beautiful commission published a report this week, titled Living in Beauty, which recommends major changes to Permitted Development rights.
The report criticised the government for Permitted Development rights which allow offices to be converted into homes without planning permission, leading to poorly-designed homes without adequate infrastructure.
This, the Local Government Association (LGA) said earlier this month, has led to 13,500 fewer affordable homes since 2015 because developers are not obligated to enter into planning obligations with local authorities, meaning the local authority can lose out on applying restrictions and provisions for affordable housing.
“Severe [housing] shortage means that opportunistic developers can abuse permitted development rights to produce accommodation of the lowest quality to house those with no alternative. In some instances, we have inadvertently permissioned future slums,” the report says.
The authors argue that local authorities should have the power to design standards for Permitted Development, and fines should be increased for those who breach the conditions of their planning permission.
The Building Better, Building Beautiful commission said that by deregulating Permitted Development rights to promote new homes, the government has “thrown the baby out with the bathwater”.
How to Improve Building Standards
The authors have called for better standards to be implemented into Building Regulations, requiring higher-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods.
One way to achieve this could be to move minimum home or room sizes into building regulations, the report suggests. This would mean that regardless of whether a development requires planning permission or could be approved under Permitted Development, it would need to meet set design criteria under the regulations.
However, the authors stopped short of calling for Permitted Development rights that enable office conversions into homes to be removed.
Tackling ‘Slum’ Housing
Alan Jones, president of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), welcomed the report and called for the government to act on the findings.
He said: “The commission has rightly condemned permitted development rights, which leave local authorities powerless to stop the development of poor-quality and potentially dangerous ‘slum’ housing.
“The government must acknowledge the dire impacts of this policy and urgently address the commission’s findings.”
The Building Better, Building Beautiful commission has also recommended changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPBF) that would make it easier to turn down planning applications on design grounds.