DEBATE: Should we end the use of Permitted Development Rights for turning commercial property into residential?

New Build Housing Companies Struggle Under The Credit Crunch
Permitted Development Rights accelerate new development (Source: Getty)

Should we end the use of Permitted Development Rights for turning commercial property into residential?

Robbie Laird, account director at Curtin&Co and Liberal Democrat councillor in Watford, says YES.

Having a foot in the development industry and being a councillor gives you a unique view. While localism is a vital principle which should be fully embraced in planning, I wince when this is used as a front for naked nimbyism.

Permitted Development Rights essentially give developers the ability to buy a commercial property and turn it into residential without the need for lengthy planning permissions. They are an anomaly of the planning system, and often lumber local communities with poor quality homes.

Allowing such developments to bypass local input and scrutiny makes the business of building new homes seem underhand at a time when we are struggling to gain community support for the need to build.

Councils are aware that the demand for office space is declining and the demand for homes is ever increasing. The government should trust them to take the decisions which need to be made – it’s unnecessary to continue with Permitted Development Rights.

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Mark Stephen, founder of Reditum Capital, says NO.

The government has promised big measures to “fix the broken housing market”, a crisis which has built up slowly over several decades and may well take an equally protracted time to fix. The key benefit of Permitted Development Rights – as one such measure – is that they accelerate new development at a time when the government has established some particularly challenging targets for housebuilding over the next few years to 2020.

It is thanks to this initiative that, in 2016/17, the government hit its housing target of building over 200,000 new homes for the first time since before the financial crisis in 2007/08.

While there is clearly a need for participants to act responsibly, this statistic alone brings into sharp focus the magnitude of the contribution being made by Permitted Development Rights, and the impressive rate at which financiers and developers have responded to this legislation in the efficient delivery of more and more much-needed new homes.

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City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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