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Labour would scrap commercial to residential permitted development

The next Labour government would put an end to the policy that sees commercial spaces converted into residential units without going through the full planning process.

Labour said permitted development rights, introduced under the coalition government in 2013, give developers “a get-out” from providing affordable housing and meeting space standards.

The current Conservative government is considering extending permitted development rights – commercial buildings on high streets could be converted into homes while other buildings could be extended upwards – as it tries to meet its target to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

A number of organisations have come out against further extending permitted development, including the RTPI, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), the Civic Voice and the Bath Preservation Trust.

Research by the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests that 10,500 affordable homes have been lost through permitted development rights in the past three years while research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), published last year, finds that office-to-residential conversions produce a higher number of poor-quality homes than those subject to the full planning process.

John Healey, Labour’s housing secretary, said: “Conservative permitted development rules have created a get-out clause for developers to dodge affordable homes requirements and build slum housing.

“To fix the housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable, high-quality homes. This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need.

“Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs.”


Laura Edgar, The Planner