Get elected, screw it all up, repeat. It’s a depressing cycle when you read it like that isn’t it? Doesn’t seem to matter what Party is in control, they all have their own particular way to damage the planning system.
Although they claim to start off overhauling the planning system with the best of intentions, their changes always end up making things worse for communities and for those needing a home. Political interference and expedience always beats sound planning arguments.
History repeats itself, ‘first as tragedy, second as farce’ as a certain well known German writer said. No more so than in the field of Planning …
This article says it all. What planet is Gove on? We have elections so that the population of an area can elect people to make these decisions on their behalf. So now he and a group of his his most recently elected successors at Westminster have decided that the current system is not good enough.
They have come up with a s system that will effectively see many more decisions made by what can only be described as a collection of parish councils. Peoples’ panels will have control and decision making powers on development and some local services. Heaven help those communities that’s all I can say.
Unfortunately, the consistent and longstanding resistance that has become embedded in the shires and high demand areas of our country and has been supported by their MPs, has created the issues we are now facing. Had there been a steady incremental increase in housing numbers, keeping pace with the local demand, including the most affordable in the most expensive areas, a target of 300,000+ new dwelling a year, wouldn’t be needed.
Name calling is not a great way to get everybody on the same page with these new planning reforms and it’s probably expecting too much to ever expect that to happen. Unfortunately, neither is the government’s tinkering and cherry picking other country’s systems. Constant stretching of permitted development rights and the numerous eyesores this has created in residential areas, is a perfect example.
For many years there has been a real need to address the severe shortage of residential accommodation in England; as the homeless numbers rapidly increase the need for affordable accommodation is at an all-time high.
With developers being blamed by the Government as being unable to build at the pace required to meet the housing needs and demands of the growing population, the Government decided a decade ago to take action and saw an opportunity for the housing supply to be boosted by allowing commercial buildings to be converted into residential dwellings. The Government said they recognised that there were many vacant and redundant office and industrial buildings, no longer serving any useful purpose that could readily be converted into a residential use and therefore ticked another box in which the Government wanted brownfield sites to be redeveloped – a win-win scenario apparently and so in the March 2011 budget, the Government’s Plan for Growthwas introduced.
After supposedly consulting the masses the Government has, since 2013, permitted the conversion of office buildings and light industrial buildings into homes without the developer first going through a full planning application process. Housing Ministers last summer then extended the scope of permitted development even further to include additions of two storeys on top of existing houses, and replacement of vacant commercial, industrial and residential buildings with homes. This news was announced the very same day as the Government published research showing that many of the homes that had been created by the permitted development route were substandard.
Six professors and lecturers from UCL and the University of Liverpool reviewed 240 planning schemes, 138 of which were change of use projects authorised as permitted development and 102 of the schemes were granted planning permission through the usual application process. Collectively, they reached the conclusion that:
“Permitted development conversions do seem to create worse quality residential environments than planning permission conversions in relation to a number of factors widely linked to the health, wellbeing and quality of life of future occupiers…These aspects are primarily related to the internal configuration and immediate neighbouring uses of schemes, as opposed to the exterior appearance, access to services or broader neighbourhood location. In office-to-residential conversions, the larger scale of many conversions can amplify residential quality issues.”
In addition their research found that as little as 22% of the dwellings created through the permitted development route actually met the nationally described space standards as opposed to 73% of those dwellings created via the application route. Furthermore, the permitted development properties not only had small internal areas, only 4% of the permitted development dwellings had access to outside private amenity areas.
It was becoming increasingly apparent that whilst the Government said it wanted to deliver high-quality, well designed homes, in reality, by changing the permitted development rights, local planning authorities were unable to do anything to prevent those unscrupulous developers from converting buildings into substandard homes with some flats being of a size no bigger than a budget hotel room, or the proverbial rabbit hutch. Until now, when, after the Easter Bunny has visited us all at the weekend, with effect from 6 April 2021, Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 comes into being and includes the new requirement that all homes built through the permitted development route must meet the nationally described space standards. These standards set out the minimum floor spaces permitted for numerous configurations and start at 37 sqm for a new one bed flat with a shower room rather than a bathroom. This change is long overdue and will hopefully stop those rabbit hutches from being constructed, but the debate about delivery vs affordability vs standards continues…Birketts LLP – Nicola Doole
Hardly a day goes by these days without another decision overturned on appeal against a refusal of a site in a local authorities development plan.
There is only one distinction in law between a planning system based on discretion and one based on zoning. That is in a zoning system the zoning system gives consent as of right to one or more levels of detail of the schemes design. They dont prevent consultation or discretion, they simply give some finality to proceedings, finality concluded when all consents and permits are granted. Frequently a zoning plan only gives consent to a sites land use, quantum of development and some limited parameters. Other matters are subject to consultation and/or design control. Where form based codes (design codes in English parlence) are in place they can often drill down another level, permitting the gneral layout and form. For these parameters not in the…