This week, the government revealed details of the upcoming changes to planning rules, including a fast-track approval process to extend homes upwards.
Also, under the new rules, full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings as homes.
According to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, the new laws, which were laid out in Parliament on 21st July, will deliver much-needed new homes and revitalise town centres across England.
The rules, which will come into effect by September, will mean full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings as homes and commercial and retail properties can be quickly repurposed.
The government stated that this will help our high streets and town centres to provide more space for new businesses and help them to adapt quickly to what consumers and businesses need.
More flexibility for extensions
Homeowners will also be able to add up to two additional storeys to their home to create new homes or more living space for growing families through a fast track approval process, with a requirement to carefully consider the impact on neighbours and the appearance of the extension.
The government says this will reduce pressure to build on greenfield sites and deliver more homes that fit the character of their local area, without the red tape.
Advantage paid a visit to the gov.uk website to take a closer look at the detail of the planning changes, and noticed the declaration that the government is “cutting out bureaucracy to get Britain building, while protecting high standards.”
Robert Jenrick said:
“We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.
“These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities. It will mean that families can add up to two storeys to their home.”
A mixed response
Some within the construction industry have welcomed the extension of Permitted Development Rights (which Advantage wrote about for PBC Today back in March).
However, as reported by Architects’ Journal, on the same day that ministers moved to extend Permitted Development Rights, the government published research which concluded that new housing created through PDRs in England since 2013 is more likely to be characterised by worse quality residential environments than housing created under the full planning permission process.
The academics’ research found that only 22 per cent of dwelling units created through permitted development would meet the nationally described space standards, compared with 73 per cent of units created through full planning permission.
PBC Today covered the reaction of Claire Dutch (partner and co-head of planning and environment at Ashurst) to the news. Ms Dutch stated:
“We’ve all been waiting eagerly to see the detail on this controversial relaxing of planning rules.
“We want to see what constitutes an ‘unused’ building and what can be built in its place.
“Will the new law itself be enough to boost housing numbers and save town centres, or will it be used more as a planning tool to improve the chances of getting planning permission? By this I mean, will it be used tactically as a first step in the planning process, as we often found with the office to resi pd right?”
The government has talked a lot about simplifying planning processes and cutting bureaucracy this summer. However, as Claire Dutch’s comments highlight, when determining whether these updates ultimately enhance the UK’s high streets, as is so often the case where planning is concerned, it will all come down to the details. And until we see more of them, many within construction will reserve judgement, and the RIBA, among other powerful voices within the sector, will continue to remind the government that building for the future is not just about building more, but about building better. For our part, we’re looking forward to seeing more information on these substantial planning changes.
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