Councils speak out over controversial planning laws

By William Eichler | 31 March 2021

Councils have stressed they continue to need to have a voice in the planning process as new laws came into force.

The rules will allow commercial premises to be converted into homes without requiring a full planning application.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick argued that an expansion of permitted development rights, which allow for changes to be made to a building without planning permission, will help high streets ‘bounce back from the pandemic’ and deliver much-needed homes.

He said: ‘By diversifying our town and city centres and encouraging the conversion of unused shops into cafes, restaurants or even new homes, we can help the high street adapt and thrive for the future.'

However, the new powers have been criticised for undermining the ability of councils to plan their local areas.

Housing and planning spokesperson for the Local Government Association, Cllr David Renard,  said: ‘Councils and local communities need to have a voice in the planning process and be able to oversee all local developments.

'This is crucial so they can shape the area they live in, ensure homes are well designed, built to a high quality, with the necessary infrastructure in place and affordable housing provided.’

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry to examine the Government’s approach to permitted development rights (PDRs).

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