Keith Brelsford, Head of Residential Development Agency at Glenny LLP shares his view.
The Prime Minister has announced a package of measures to help kick start the economy as part of a new growth strategy, which consists of a number of new initiatives to support housing and planning including £12 billion towards the delivery of 180,000 additional affordable homes, additional funds from the £400m Brownfield Fund allocated towards providing additional homes, and the Home Building Fund which is set to receive an additional £450 million to help smaller developers access finance for new housing developments.
In addition, there were changes to planning with the introduction of further flexibility, including extending permitted development rights so commercial property can be demolished and rebuilt for housing without a formal planning application, as well as more flexibility in the Use Class Order so property can be used more easily for alternative uses.
Whilst further financial investment is welcomed by the development industry and any measures that endeavour to deliver more housing and in particular affordable housing should be applauded, is greater flexibility around permitted development rights the best way to deliver housing?
Past experience of permitted development rights confirms that it doesn’t always deliver the quality of housing that the country needs or the quantity of affordable housing. There should always be the incentive to reuse brownfield or previously developed land, but not to the detriment of quality and the avoidance of delivering affordable housing. Most people would agree that our planning system doesn’t work effectively to deliver the consents needed and would benefit from greater resourcing of planning authorities from both government and the industry.
We must work together to deliver on the housing we desperately need, but we cannot fast track our way there by sacrificing on quality. As always, the devil will be in the detail which we all await.