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Former housing minister slams 'toxic' permitted development rights

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Permitted development rights, which allows development on certain properties without planning permission, are “toxic” and should not be allowed to take place, according to a review of the planning system.

The Raynsford Review, published today, called on the government to “immediately restrict” the use of permitted development rights.

Former Labour housing minister Nick Raynsford said: “We ignore at our peril the anger and disaffection felt by so many communities at the failure of current planning policies and procedures to listen to their concerns and respond to their needs.

“Restoring public confidence in the planning system is one of our generation’s greatest challenges.”

Developers have been able to easily convert office spaces into residential units since 2015 under permitted development rights, contributing to about 10% of the new homes created between 2015-16 and 2016-17. In that period, 30,575 of the 347,510 new builds recorded were office to residential conversions.

The LGA’s housing spokesperson Martin Tett (Con) criticised the use of permitted development rules in January, saying that it allowed developers to “bypass local influence” and convert offices to flats “without providing affordable housing and local services and infrastructure such as roads and schools”.

The government also recently started a consultation on whether to extend permitted development rights to high street shops, enabling their redevelopment into residential usage without planning permission.

The chair of the housing, communities and local government committee Clive Betts (Lab) also recently criticised the government’s policy to “fast track” fracking projects through the use of permitted development, saying it showed “disregard” for local democracy. Mr Betts said the practice would allow for exploratory drilling to be set up across the countryside without permission and would “remove the important link between fracking applications and local plans”.

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