Committee publishes planning report - CLA responds

While the report focuses on urban areas, the CLA believes permitted development rights should be retained in the countryside as they stimulate economic growth

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published a report about permitted development rights (PDRs).

The report highlights concern that some homes built under PDR policy are of poor quality and that recent changes to PDR could undermine attempts to revitalise the high street and the ability of local authorities to plan development and shape communities. It also says the prior approval process for residential PDRs might have become so complicated it is now little different from the full planning process.

The Committee examined government’s recent changes to permitted development rights in respect of large-scale development, commercial-to-residential conversions and changes of use between different types of commercial and retail premises.

The report makes a series of recommendations:

  • pause any further extensions of permitted development for change of use to residential, including the new class MA right, which is due to take effect on 1 August;
  • conduct a review of the role of PDRs for change of use to residential within the wider planning system and explain how it aligns with plan-led development and local democratic involvement, two areas of emphasis in the Government’s Planning for the future White Paper; and
  • consider amending the prior approval process to require PDR housing to have outdoor private or communal amenity space, and to enable councils to require that PDR housing contributes overall to the delivery of the right mix of housing for their area. In particular, the report recommends that local authorities be able to prevent the siting of homes in inappropriate locations, such as business and industrial parks

Responding to this report, CLA President Mark Bridgeman said:

“While this report predominantly focuses on urban areas, it’s essential permitted development rights are retained in the countryside as they help stimulate economic growth in rural areas.

“Specifically, permitted development rights enable farmers and land managers to diversify and re-invest in their communities by repurposing unused farm buildings into commercial business space or for critically-needed new homes. Doing this also creates more employment opportunities as well as dwellings in the countryside – helping to bridge the long-standing rural productivity gap between urban and rural areas. The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average and closing that gap could be worth £43bn to the economy.”

Read the report here