The Government's recent consultation on changes to permitted development rights has sparked mixed reactions from various stakeholders.
The government's stated intent is to increase housing supply and revitalise certain areas, the proposed changes offer new opportunities for developers and property owners. However, concerns about the potential drawbacks and lack of foresight raise questions about the effectiveness of these changes. In this blog post, we will explore the key proposals and discuss the implications and how they may have on the housing market.
Changes to Commercial Buildings:
The proposed changes regarding commercial and business properties seek to streamline the process of changing their use to dwellings. While the increase in the floor area limit and the removal of the continuous 3-month vacancy requirement may speed up conversions, some argue that this move signifies a failure to acknowledge the potential consequences. Concerns arise over the quality of the converted dwellings and the possibility of shifting focus away from commercial uses, thereby adversely affecting the high street's vitality.
Impact on Hotels and Tourism:
The introduction of a new permitted development right to convert hotels, boarding houses, and guest houses into dwellings could potentially address housing needs. However, the Government acknowledges the need for limits on the floorspace changing use, indicating awareness of possible negative effects on the tourism industry. This proposal appears more reactionary than well-thought-out, raising doubts about its ability to alleviate housing demands effectively.
The proposed changes to permitted development rights for agricultural buildings offer a significant opportunity to convert unused spaces into residential dwellings. However, concerns linger regarding the complexity of the changes, particularly in relation to buildings not solely for agricultural use. Clear definitions are needed to avoid ambiguity. While the changes may bolster the housing supply in rural areas, it remains uncertain whether there are enough eligible buildings to make a substantial difference. The primary changes may be summarised as follows: -
- Introduce a single maximum floor space limit of either 100 or 150 square metres per dwelling.
- Increase the maximum number of homes that can be created by conversion from 5 to 10.
- Introduce a maximum floor space limit of 1000 square metres.
- Allow for rear extensions of buildings under Class Q.
- Introduce a minimum building size of 37 square metres.
- Allow Class Q change of use on Article 2(3) land (i.e., conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks)
- Allow Class Q to apply for agricultural buildings not solely in agricultural use (i.e., buildings hired out for storage) and for former agricultural buildings no longer on an agricultural unit.
- Require that any building must have existing suitable access to a public highway.
- Allow for other rural buildings, not in agricultural use, to benefit from Class Q rights (i.e., equestrian buildings).
Balancing Economic Improvements and Environmental Impact:
The proposed flexibility for agricultural buildings to change use for commercial purposes and the ability to combine various uses on agricultural land are intended to support the rural economy. However, the Government's focus on economic improvements overshadows a lack of consideration for wider impacts, such as environmental consequences. This raises questions about the thoroughness of the consultation process and the potential sustainability of these changes.
The Government's consultation on permitted development rights presents both opportunities and challenges. While the changes seemingly boost the housing supply and provide additional options for developers, there are concerns about the potential negative impacts on local businesses, tourism, and environmental sustainability. The lack of foresight in some proposals and the absence of comprehensive solutions to address potential issues raise doubts about the effectiveness of these changes in achieving their intended. Furthermore, the number of dwellings which could be created via the relaxations proposed will have a very limited impact on the overall housing supply.
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