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16,000 homes could have been lost due to PDR, suggests analysis

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing / Shutterstock_519502300

Councils have warned that office blocks currently empty due to the Covid-19 pandemic are at risk of being converted into 'potentially substandard' housing as a result of permitted development rights (PDR).

Local Government Association (LGA) analysis suggests that more than 16,000 affordable homes could have been lost in England in the past five years due to office to residential conversions that have not gone through the full planning process.

In 2019/20, 56.6 per cent of all new homes in Trafford were office conversions, according to the LGA. These figures were 40.9 per cent in Crawley, 37.5 per cent in Harlow, 36.7 per cent in Walsall and 36.3 per cent in Luton.

New PDRs, confirmed at the end of March, allows the change of use from commercial, business and service uses (class E) to residential use (C3) in England.

The legislation for PDRs in relation to schools, hospitals and prisons, and to ports and to statues came into force on 21 April. Applications may not be made under the commercial, business and service to residential PDR until 1 August 2021.

As the representative body for councils, the LGA has called for PDRs to be scrapped as part of a strengthening of the locally-led planning system.

David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “There is a real possibility that some office blocks, retail and commercial spaces will remain empty beyond Covid-19 and end up being converted into housing under permitted development rights, bypassing the local planning system and the voice of local communities, who will be hamstrung in their ability to raise any objections or issues.

“We have long had concerns over the substandard housing created from permitted development conversions, and the lack of any requirement for developers to provide affordable homes or supporting infrastructure.

“The planning system exists to enable the delivery of a mix of high-quality, affordable housing that meets the needs of local communities, and gives those communities the opportunity to shape and define the area they live in.

“Councils are committed to building the housing this country desperately needs as part of the national recovery from coronavirus, but we urge the Government to protect the future quality of new homes by permanently revoking the permitted development rights for change of use into homes.”

Read more:

RTPI denounces controversial PDRs confirmed by the government

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