Labour’s Plan to axe permitted development rights a mistakeMake Text Bigger
The Right-to-Buy your council home, if you were a sitting tenant, was a key Conservative policy introduced in the 1980 Housing Act by Margaret Thatcher. All of a sudden, people who had never had the option before could realistically think about owning their own home.
However, just like today, people preferred some types of housing over others, such as a detached house over flat in a high-rise block. Therefore, over time, as people bought the homes they once rented from their local councils, the authorities were left with a depleted housing stock of less than desirable properties. The once populist, profitable policy, has left a disastrous legacy affected today’s social housing market.
In 2013, Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) were brought in by the Tory-led coalition as part of a government effort to reverse a slump in home-building during the last recession. However, the next Labour government has now said it will scrap rules that allow developers to turn offices into homes without any planning consent, blaming “permitted development” rules for a swath of cramped and substandard housing resembling “rabbit hutch flats”.
I appreciate there may well be some poor examples of developments under PDRs but there are also great examples. Axing the policy altogether would be a mistake and only make life harder for those struggling to find affordable homes.
Permitted Development Rights have done a lot to boost new housing supply in recent years by allowing new homes to be built faster and more sustainable. Many of the redundant converted offices house people who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets. Abolishing it would hit the poorest and most vulnerable by reducing housing options.
We shouldn’t be looking to scrap the policy, but rather at ways to improve it. The government needs to be shaping the social housing market as opposed to preventing developers.
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