Concerns over planning reforms

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said the reforms would make the planning system “faster and more efficient” and give families “greater freedom to extend their homes to meet their changing needs”.

But the LGA is concerned the changes will take away the ability of local communities to shape their areas and ensure important local infrastructure is included in redevelopments. It could also result in the potential loss of affordable housing – as has happened with office-to-home conversions under permitted development rules.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s Housing Spokesman, said: “Councils are committed to building the homes the country desperately needs; however, it is vital the planning process is allowed to do its job, by making sure that homes are built in the right places, are affordable to those who need them and supported by the right infrastructure.

“Limiting the application of planning rules also goes against the Government’s commitment to implement the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report into building safety.”

He added: “Planning is not a barrier to house building, with councils approving nine in 10 planning applications. It is essential that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process.

“We reiterate our call for the Government to give councils the powers to get the hundreds of thousands of homes with planning permission built more quickly.”

It comes as LGA analysis has revealed a boom in barns converted into homes without needing planning permission.

Latest figures show the number of agricultural to residential conversions in England has risen from 226 in 2015/16 to 743 in 2017/18. The LGA is concerned that rural areas in particular are not being provided with the local services or infrastructure – and, in some places, affordable housing – that would normally be required in any development going through the planning system.

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