Shelter, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation are among the other co-signatories to an open letter to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which raises concerns about the wide-ranging impacts of these permitted developments.
Since 2013, developers have had the right to convert office space into residential homes, and nearly 7 per cent of new homes have been provided in this way in the last three years. These homes are exempt from the full local planning process, and developers do not have to make any contribution towards affordable social housing or vital local infrastructure such as roads, schools, open spaces and community facilities.
Research by the LGA has calculated that more than 10,000 affordable homes have potentially been lost in the last three years because these office conversions did not go through the planning system (see first 631).
Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing Spokesperson, said: “As well as increasing the focus on affordability, new housing development should also provide homes that are high quality, well designed, and served by the necessary community infrastructure.
“These ambitions are currently in jeopardy, because of national policies that enable developers to avoid making such vital contributions. One of the most significant of these is permitted development rights allowing offices to convert to residential homes without the need for planning permission.
“We call on the Government to instead focus on delivering the affordable, high quality homes that people want and need through the local planning process. This would support the Government’s own ambitions to improve the quality of homes and places, as outlined in the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission launched in November.
“We also consider that there should be an independent review of the wide-ranging impacts of permitted development rights allowing change of use into residential homes.”