Planning imageThe government, not content with the disastrous legislation they have introduced to undermine local planning rules through their 'Permitted Develpopment Rights', are now going ahead with consultation on further reforms under the title of 'On Planning Reforms To Support The High Street And Increase The Delivery Of New Homes'

Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic movement in England has summarised the document and expresses its considerable concerns on the implications for this proposed new legislation for local development. You can find the link to the consultation and read their comments here

The Royal Town Planning Institute has responded to government planning reforms with their campaign Room to Breathe'.

The Bishopston Society's own view, given by Neil Embleton our Planning Adviser is as follows:

In the recent budget the Government proposed further loosening of PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT rules to stimulate the high street and encourage the provision of new homes. The broad drift of the proposals is to free up alternative uses of vacant shops and, more concerning, to allow the upward extension of existing buildings to increase height/density on the high street and create new dwellings on new upper levels . All without the need for planning permission.

We would encourage you all to respond to the consultation questionnaire here which closes on 14th January and make your voice heard.

The Bishopston Society has completed the consultation document as follows:

Q. 1.1-.1.8 Allow greater change of use to support high street to adapt and diversify.
We support the change of use from shops to offices and/or residential and particularly to community uses like libraries/health centres/exhibition halls, where shops stand empty. Furthermore, we support increased flexibility between shops and offices, but with some reservations regarding restaurants/cafes which have potential impact with smells, noise and late opening.

Q. 1.9-1.10 A new permitted development right to housing delivery by extending buildings upwards to create additional houses.
Whilst we support the principle of increasing the height of the right type of building in the right location and the re-use of existing upper floors above shops for residential use, we are extremely concerned at the proposal to allow the upward extension of commercial and residential buildings in general, under Permitted Development, to provide additional housing. As we have seen over recent years with roof extensions, permitted development means uncontrolled development and poor design, which is spoiling our streets. This proposal for upward development without control would open the flood gates for extremely ugly/functional new upper levels on our high streets.

Q. 1.11-1.17 Height
The questionnaire proposes a maximum height of 5 storey for upward extension of buildings under permitted development. We consider that this is excessive and could well lead to some highly prominent eyesores.

Q. 1.15-1.16 Premises Suitable for upward extension
The questionnaire proposes that all commercial and residential buildings are potentially suitable for upward extension and asks what other building types we consider might be suitable. Large surface buildings like supermarkets and leisure centres are a waste of land and would benefit from residential units above. However, being lightweight structures they are not easy to convert after the event.

Q. 1.18-1.19 Prior Approval
Prior Approval means the planning authority setting development principles, so that the resulting development is fit for purpose and its setting. This seems to us to be a halfway measure to full planning scrutiny, but still an essential precaution against unsatisfactory development. Design Codes are intended to control the quality of future development, but they require tight supervision, which goes against the principle of permitted development. On this basis we are not convinced that they will be effective.

Q.1.20 Upward extending individual houses
We do not agree that the current permitted development right to convert a loft space, which has already spoiled local houses and streets, should be extended to permit the full upward extension of individual houses. Extending the roof space or upward extending an individual house does not, after all, do anything to solve the housing crisis.

Q. 1.25 - 1.26 Larger extensions to dwelling houses
It seems that 22,400 extensions have been built in 2117/18. We are not in support of increasing the size of single storey extensions or of the proposal to make the current time-limited PD rights for extensions permanent.

Q. 1.27-1.28 Supported housing delivery by allowing for the demolition of commercial buildings and redevelopment as residential
We do not support the uncontrolled demolition of existing buildings to make way for new residential development, as this will lead to the loss of many good quality buildings like banks and warehouses which, although not listed, are attractive and part of the history of any town and worth preserving and converting to new uses. It will usually be more profitable to demolish and this should not be the default.

Q. 1.29-1.30 Impact assessment
(1) We are generally in support of flexibility of use on the high street to keep buildings in use.
(11) We are extremely concerned about the potential impact of large 2/3 storey extensions on top of existing buildings which are poorly designed and specified. We consider that the negative impact on our townscape will be dramatic.
(V) We have no objection to the change of use from storage to residential.
(V1) We do not support the extension of PD rights to enlarge residential dwellings. We consider that the impact of the extensions which have already been built under PD demonstrate that unregulated development on this scale has an extremely negative impact.