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Wed February 28 2024

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Permitted development rights relaxed

13 Feb Converting empty office and department stores into residential flats is about to get much easier.

Legislation laid in parliament today will extend current permitted development rights so that commercial buildings of any size can be converted into new homes without going through the full planning process.

The government is today also launching a consultation on proposals that would allow property owners to build extensions or large loft conversions without planning permission.

Relaxation of permitted development rights perhaps represents one of the last throws of the dice by the government to recoup its 20-point poll deficit before the general election later this year.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) is also issuing directions to local planning authorities to be less fussy about brownfield developments and be more “flexible” in applying policies that halt house-building on brownfield land. 

Planning authorities in England’s 20 largest cities and towns will be made to follow a ‘brownfield presumption’, if house-building drops below expected levels. DLUHC expects that this will make it easier to get permission to build on brownfield sites while simultaneously relieving pressure on the green belt.

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A consultation on these proposals will run until Tuesday 26th March, and the government will look to implement these changes to national planning policy as soon as possible, it said.

Big developers like the sound of it all.

Barratt Developments chief executive David Thomas said: “We welcome any efforts to make it easier to get planning permission, particularly for brownfield regeneration which is already naturally a more complicated and capital-intensive process. Industry and local and national government need to work together to find ways of delivering more new homes more quickly, including on previously developed land, and this is a positive step.”

British Land chief executive Simon Carter said: “Today’s announcement is another important step towards unlocking the potential of brownfield urban regeneration. British Land has consistently advocated for practical, deliverable planning reform which prioritises brownfield development, accelerates the pace of housing delivery and helps to secure long-term sustainable growth, by intensifying development in urban areas where it is needed most.”

Landsec chief executive Mark Allan said: “Landsec has been campaigning to unlock more economic growth, more homes and more jobs by refocusing national planning policy on the opportunities provided by brownfield urban regeneration. The emphasis on maximising housing development in urban areas set out today means that we can seize some of those opportunities, deliver more homes and secure better outcomes for cities and the people who live there.”

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