‘More PDR risks a disruptive free-for-all’ – London Councils welcomes select committee report on permitted development rights

London Councils has welcomed a parliamentary select committee’s call for the government to review the role of permitted development rights (PDR).

The housing, communities, and local government committee’s report highlights concerns that some homes built under PDR policy are “poor quality” and that extending PDR could undermine local authorities’ ability to “plan development and shape communities.”

London Councils has repeatedly warned of the negative consequences of PDR, including low-quality residential accommodation being built in unsuitable locations, with no requirement for affordable housing and a loss of employment space.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:

“The select committee is right to highlight the serious problems with PDR and to call on the government to review this policy.

“Boroughs are extremely concerned about any extension of permitted development rights. PDR leads to poorer quality housing, unsustainable development, and umpteen problems for local communities.

“Extending PDR would further undermine boroughs’ ability to plan the future of London’s high streets and town centres, which is absolutely key to shaping the post-pandemic economic recovery. More PDR risks a disruptive free-for-all, with short-term financial considerations deciding the future use of buildings.

“We’re all determined to increase the number of homes built in the capital, but undermining standards and weakening planning powers through PDR is not the way to go about it.”

Boroughs grant around 50,000 planning approvals each year and there are approximately 266,000 new homes in the capital’s development pipeline. Boroughs lack the power to make developers build out planning permissions.

London Councils also points to inadequate funding for social housing, rather than the planning system, as a key factor explaining the capital’s housing pressures.

There are around 250,000 London households on council housing waiting lists. Over 60,000 homeless households are placed in temporary accommodation by London boroughs. The capital accounts for two-thirds of homelessness in England.

To address the shortage of affordable housing in the capital, London Councils is seeking increased government investment and improved support for council housebuilding. This requires an end to all national restrictions on the use of Right to Buy receipts, so that every penny raised from council house sales can be reinvested in replacements, and confirmation of long-term social rent levels.

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