CPRE slates government’s proposals for planning deregulation
The government’s proposed planning reforms could amount to “the exact opposite of building back better”, CPRE believes.
Downing Street says its proposals are “the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War”.
Amended planning rules, due to be in place by September, would permit:
- Developers to “demolish and rebuild” vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes
- A wider range of commercial buildings to be switched to housing without a planning application.
- Property-owners to build “additional space above their properties”, via a “fast-track approval process”.
Tom Fyans, policy and campaigns director at CPRE, the countryside charity, was not impressed: “Deregulating planning and cutting up red tape simply won’t deliver better quality places. It’s already far too easy to build poor-quality homes. Our research has shown that three-quarters of large housing developments are mediocre or poor in terms of their design and should not have been granted planning permission.
“Transferring decision-making power from local councils and communities and handing them to developers is the exact opposite of building back better.
“The best way to deliver the places that we need, at the pace we need them, is to make it easier for local councils to get Local Plans in place, and then to hold developers to those plans.
“One glimmer of hope in the prime minister’s words are those prioritising building on brownfield to release pressure on greenfield sites. But if we are to truly build back better, and ‘level up’ across the country, we need to make sure the voices of local communities are strengthened in shaping the homes and places that they will inherit.”
Reform of the Use Classes Order means there will be total flexibility in repurposing more types of commercial premises.
Examples might be shops or stores being converted to cafés or offices without the need for planning applications and local authority approval. However, there will not be such flexibility for pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings judged essential to communities.