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18,000 affordable homes lost to permitted development, says LGA

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / iStock-807295382

Office-to-residential permitted development has resulted in the loss of more than 18,000 affordable homes, according to analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA).

Since 2015, says the representative body for 350 councils in England and Wales, 73,575 homes have been converted from offices under permitted development.

Removing all permitted development rights (PDR) would ensure that all conversions and new developments contribute to the delivery of affordable homes across the country, maintains the LGA.

David Renard, housing spokesperson for the LGA, says: “There is a need for more affordable housing across the country but, regrettably, premises such as offices, agricultural buildings, shops, restaurants and light industry can now be converted into houses without the need to provide any affordable homes.

“This is why we would like to see the permitted development rights removed. Giving planning powers back to councils will also support local ambitions to revive and reimagine high streets and town centres. The upcoming Queen’s Speech should also give councils further powers to bring vacant properties back into use.

“A local, plan-led system is crucial in delivering on levelling-up ambitions to ensure councils can deliver the right types of homes in the right places with appropriate infrastructure, ensuring a mix of high-quality affordable housing that meets the needs of local communities, while also giving those communities the opportunity to shape and define the area they live in.”

Phil King, District Councils’ Network (DCN) Better Lives spokesperson, commented: “District councils are working tirelessly to protect and support their local high streets as they recover from the pandemic. Districts are investing more than £1.3 billion of government renewal funding and attracting investment from the private sector. Permitted development undermines this effort by allowing precious local business and retail space to be lost unchecked.

“Without adequate planning checks from councils, it’s all too easy for housing created through permitted development to be substandard and out of kilter with wider regeneration and place shaping. It denies local communities a say in development and gives developers a way out of providing vital local infrastructure and affordable homes."

The DCN states that the government should focus on giving councils “greater powers to end the scourge of long-term vacant commercial units on our high streets and to invest in the reinvention of our town centres”.

The LGA used government figures in its analysis.

Image credit | iStock