This brief report explains why the government needs to abandon its policy of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) for office to residential conversions. It sets out how the policy works, when it was introduced, why it’s so difficult for local authorities to gain immunity from PDR and what the consequences have been.
Bypassing the planning process means that proposals are not scrutinised in the usual way, that housing standards can’t be applied and that the local community has no say. It also means affordable housing cannot be required and that valuable office space is being lost. As the two case studies illustrate, it has resulted in flats of 13m2 or without windows, often in noisy, polluted environments. Some of the worst conversions are knowingly allocated to vulnerable people.
We’re not calling for a ban on office to residential conversions; we’re just arguing that proposals need to be filtered through the normal planning process. Working with Shelter and the TCPA, we hope to get the government to think again.