Permitted Development

Greenway House, Harlow Essex

The delivery of poor-quality new homes has been facilitated by Permitted Development rule changes in the last ten years. Initially, Permitted Development was used to allow minor extensions to homes and buildings without requiring a full planning application. Since 2013, these rules have been extended to allow a wide range of buildings (including offices and light industrial warehouses) to be converted into homes and other uses without needing to go through a planning application.

The aim of these rule changes was to increase the number of new homes built, but the quality of those homes was never a consideration. An estimated 100,000 homes have been created through Permitted Development since 2013. The poor quality of many of these conversions reflect the lack of strong and clear standards, with many people living in damp, cramped, noisy, unsafe and isolated properties.

Permitted Development undermines the ability of local authorities to shape good quality place-making through the democratic planning system, which is essential to protect and support people’s health. For example, by avoiding a full planning application, developers do not need to meet ‘section 106’ requirements to contribute towards affordable housing and community amenities.

There is no requirement to address key building regulations in homes produced through a ‘material change of use’ under Permitted Development. As part of our Campaign for Healthy Homes, the TCPA has identified 11 principles that all new homes must achieve, including adequate living space, thermal comfort, and access to local amenities and green spaces. Only one of these principles – the provision of liveable space – is clearly addressed by Permitted Development rules, and even then, the space standards are poorly defined for babies and children.

You can find out more about Permitted Development with the following resources:


The TCPA is also working with UCL as part of its ‘Health impacts of converted housing’ project, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research: The UCL Permitted Development Converted Housing Project.


Further resources

(Header image: office converted to residential flats, Greenway House, Harlow Essex)