Illogical planning deregulation will make it harder to deliver affordable homes

As Philip Hammond confirms plans to expand permitted development rights, Polly Neate explains why she thinks they will have a negative impact

In March, Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the 2019 Spring Statement. The government announcement about the Affordable Homes Guarantees Programme has gained a lot of coverage.

But behind the headlines, an illogical and retrograde step is planned that will deregulate the planning system further: the expansion of permitted development rights (PDRs).

Housing schemes that have PDRs do not go through the normal local planning process. Instead, planning authorities can only assess very limited issues like flood risk or the impact the project would have on transport.

Under this deregulation, the usual ways in which planning authorities can get developers to agree to provide affordable housing, including social housing – known as Section 106 agreements – are not available.

As a result, the past few years have seen local planning authorities, and more importantly the many thousands of people struggling to find a home they can afford, lose out on thousands of potential social and affordable homes.

At the end of last year, the government released a consultation on expanding PDRs.

The chancellor has announced that the expansion is going ahead, to include upward extensions of certain commercial and residential buildings, which may include blocks of flats.

PDRs will also be granted to conversions of hot food takeaways into homes.

On top of this, the government hasn’t ruled out granting PDRs to the demolition of commercial buildings that get replaced as housing.

So we face the prospect of a building being knocked down and built back up with no requirement for the new development to comply with planning policy.

We remain deep in a national emergency with 277,000 people currently recorded as homeless in England.