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Jenrick: Homes delivered through PDR will have to meet space standard

Words: Laura Edgar
Space standards / iStock-1152814196

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that all new homes in England delivered through permitted development rights (PDR) will have to subscribe to a Nationally Described Space Standard.

A one bedroom flat with a shower room will have to be at least 37m² in size, or 39m² in size if the flat has a bathroom. This seeks to ensure there is enough living space for a single resident.

Permitted development homes do not need to go through the full planning process, but are instead subject to a prior-approval process. The government says they “make an important contribution to delivering the housing the country needs” and “have little difference in quality” when compared to a home that has gone through the full planning process.

In July, a government commissioned report research into the quality of homes created through PDR concluded that such conversions create "worse-quality" homes than those created after going through the full planning process.

On internal design, the research says there was a “significant difference” between PDR properties and full permission schemes: only 22.1 per cent of dwelling units created through PD would meet the nationally described space standards (NDSS), compared with 73.4 per cent of units created through full permission. 

The government says the Nationally Described Space Standard will stop a minority of developers delivering small homes without justification.

Jenrick commented: “Permitted development rights are helping to deliver new homes and making an important contribution to our economic recovery from the pandemic, supporting our high streets by encouraging the regeneration of disused buildings and boosting our housing industry to safeguard the jobs of builders, plumbers and electricians.

“The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of having somewhere secure and comfortable to live. While most developers deliver good homes and do the right thing, I’m tackling the minority of developers abusing the system by announcing that new homes delivered will have to meet space standards.”

RTPI head of policy Richard Blyth welcomed the announcement.

“There is no doubt that the increased use of PDRs has led to housing which is detrimental to the wellbeing of residents. We flagged up the need to incorporate minimum quality standards in PDRs in our response to the consultation last year and called for action again on space standards in a letter to the housing secretary earlier this year.

“However, it is important to note that many problems remain with the increased use of PDRs, such as the location of homes in highly unsuitable places and that there is no requirement for any access to public or private open space, or balconies despite lessons learned from the pandemic.”

David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, agreed the change is welcome but that concerns remain. He noted the government commissioned report and its finding that PD  conversions "mostly avoid making any contribution to local areas, fail to meet adequate design standards and often create worse quality residential environments".

“It is vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process and are able to oversee all local developments. This is the only way they can deliver resilient, prosperous places and ensure developers build high-quality affordable homes in the right places and with the right infrastructure.”

Under planning reforms outlined in August, communities would be involved in discussions to shape design codes for their area, with the design codes to cover PDR homes. Also over the summer, the government legislated that all PD homes must have windows. 

Read more: 

Planning reforms ‘will upgrade tech’ and ‘consult communities from the start’, vows Jenrick

Report commissioned by MHCLG concludes PD homes provide a ‘poor residential experience’

Government legislates to ensure all permitted development properties have natural light

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