Following the end of the consultation of the Planning White Paper, the Government has now published a consultation on ‘more immediate changes’ to the planning system. These proposals focus on, accordingly to the consultation, ‘supporting the economic future of our high streets and town centres, supporting jobs, and the faster delivery of our schools and hospitals’.
Key proposals in the new consultation:
- A new national permitted development right for the change of use of shops, banks and restaurants, gyms, creches and offices to residential use;
- Amending existing permitted development rights to allow schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and prisons to expand by up to 25% of the footprint of the current buildings, or up to 250sqm (thereby removing a previous cap of 100sqm for all buildings other than schools); and
- Reducing the time fordecision making on applications for new hospitals, schools, colleges and prisons so that the consultation for them is reduced from 21 days to 14 days.
Fiona Howie, the Town and Country Planning Association’s Chief Executive, said in response to the consultation:
“Back in July the Government published independent research it had commissioned into the quality of homes delivered through certain permitted development rights. The report concluded that homes converted via permitted development rights create worse quality residential environments than those converted with planning permission. This was in relation to a number of factors widely linked to the health, wellbeing and quality of life. Despite this, they seem to have ignored their own commissioned research and are now consulting on expanding these rights.
“We absolutely do need more homes and we need to reinvigorate our high streets and town centres. But further expanding permitted development rights is not the way to do it because it risks delivering poor quality homes that undermine people’s health and wellbeing.
“We have previously raised with Government the importance of democratic input into the planning system if we want high quality places. These latest proposals will undermine the ability of communities to inform decisions about new schools, prisons and hospitals. These are potentially large developments and rather than seeking to reduce consultation time from 21 days to 14, the Government needs to recognise that local communities should have an important role in shaping these anchor institutions.
“The Government’s Planning White Paper argued that they wanted to give communities a more meaningful voice in the future of their area. These proposals seem to suggest the Government wants to give communities as little voice as possible.
“This latest consultation is emblematic of the Government’s desire to deregulate the planning system, and reinforces more than ever the need for a Healthy Homes Act that would establish a framework to require all new homes to be of decent quality.”
About the TCPA:
The Town and Country Planning Association campaigns for the reform of the UK’s planning system to make it more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations and to promote sustainable development.
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