Change of use rights extension undermining community building efforts

Permitted development rights (PDR) may have catastrophic consequences on communities as the UK Government pushes ahead with its pledge to create 300,000 new homes.

In a report published in July 2021, the Committee raised concerns about further extensions of PDRs for change of use from Class E (office buildings, shops, commercial properties) to Class C (residential use), specifying that homes built under the PDR policy are of poor quality and that the recent changes would potentially undermine attempts at revitalising high streets.

The RTPI mirrored these concerns, citing a possible impact on leisure businesses such as gyms, swimming pools and sports and leisure facilities also included in Class E, which have been highlighted as the new frontier of high streets as retail businesses move online. 

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Without a place-based planned approach, we also fear that essential local services such as convenience stores, crèches, pharmacies, solicitors and post offices could be wiped out permanently as landlords race to recoup losses accrued during the pandemic in return for higher residential values, impacting those who can least afford to travel and leaving a legacy of unsustainable travel behaviour.

The RTPI will be closely watching the impacts that come as a result of these changes. We remain clear that a planning policy and a carefully curated place-based strategy is the best way to support a green recovery of high streets and town centres.

Victoria Hills Chief Executive | Royal Town Planning Institute

Additionally, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee also raised issues with recent PDR activity giving rise to more studio apartments and flats rather than quality housing for families. 

Image attribution: "Victoria Hills" from RTPI

Read a summary of the report