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23/09/2020

TCPA warns of tens of thousands of homes 'bypassing' planning

Words: Huw Morris

Tens of thousands of new homes have legally bypassed England’s planning system since 2013 through permitted development rights (PDRs), according to the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).

Its research warns that PDRs and their extension threaten the ability of councils to focus on place-making, undermine local democracy and jobs alongside the wellbeing of communities. The study says despite research from Public Health England and other authorities establishing that neighbourhoods are crucial to communities’ health and wellbeing, PDRs consistently undermine councils’ efforts to plan for healthy and safe places.

PDRs have made real place-making impossible in many areas by effectively removing swathes of land in key areas from councils’ influence, and preventing them from securing and coordinating development in sustainable, safe areas, the TCPA argues.

Councils have also been deprived of funding for green space, community facilities, healthcare, roads and affordable housing, which are essential to communities’ wellbeing because councils are unable to collect section 106 payments on developments. Moreover, PDRs threatens jobs and businesses because councils are unable to stop employment land in their areas being converted to housing with the potential to force local people into unsustainable communities. Those communities have also been unable to influence their local environment as it changes over time.

The TCPA says the government’s approach to regulating the quality of new homes is “broken," calling for better not less regulation which guarantees all new homes and neighbourhoods delivered through PDRs or government planning reforms support health and wellbeing. It is campaigning for a Healthy Homes Act, which would require all new homes and neighbourhoods to be of decent quality.

“We are clear that permitted development rights are delivering too many poor quality homes but also having wider, negative impacts. While the government have made some recent changes that will prevent homes being built without windows, more needs to be done if they really are serious about the importance of beauty, good design and place-making,” said chief executive Fiona Howie.

“We do need more homes, but they need to be good quality, rather than homes that are undermining people’s health and wellbeing as well as the quality of places. “We believe new legislation in the form of a Healthy Homes Act is a first step in preventing poor quality homes being built. But we also need the government to recognise that we need better regulation rather than less.”

The report can be found here on the TCPA website.

Image credit | iStock

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