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Warning Over Impact of New Laws to Reduce Communities’ Say over Local Developments

August 9, 2020 6:00 PM
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

Cllr Jon AbbottThe Chair of Bedford Borough Council's Planning Committee has warned that the Government's extension of 'Permitted Development' (PD) rights will further reduce local people's influence over their own communities and could lead to poorer quality, unpopular development taking place.

The government introduced new legislation last week extending PD rights for certain kinds of development to take place without planning permission via the local planning authority. They include demolition of certain buildings and their replacement with housing, and upward extensions of up to two storeys on certain existing homes. Removing the requirement for planning permission for these developments will mean there is no opportunity for the views of local residents, parish councils and others to be considered before they can take place.

The legislation was published on the same day as a government-commissioned report which delivered a damning verdict on the impact of current PD rights enabling the conversion of property from commercial to residential use.

The report details the lower standard of development achieved via PD conversions compared to conversions subject to planning permission. For example, only 22.1% of dwelling units created through PD conversions meet the nationally described space standards (NDSS), compared to 73.4% of units created through full planning permission.

Commenting, Bedford Borough Council Planning Committee Chair, Liberal Democrat Cllr Jon Abbott said: "Planning should remain local, enabling genuine involvement for local communities in how their neighbourhoods change and develop. Extending permitted development does the opposite, bypassing the planning process, removing local residents' voices and rolling back local democracy.'

"With new research demonstrating how existing permitted development rights have led to poorer quality homes and quality of life, reducing local people's involvement in the planning system cannot be right. Local communities must have a say over developments in their area."

The report by academics from the University of Liverpool and University College London, 'Research into the quality standard of homes delivered through change of use permitted development rights', can be read at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-standard-of-homes-delivered-through-change-of-use-permitted-development-rights

The government's announcement of its new legislation to expand Permitted Development Rights can be read at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-laws-to-extend-homes-upwards-and-revitalise-town-centres