HMG Consultation – Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure

On 3 December 2020, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government launched a consultation, ‘Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure’ seeking views on proposals for:-

  • a new national permitted development right for the change of use from the Commercial, Business and Service use class (Class E, introduced in September 2020) to residential (Class C3) to increase delivery of new homes (without the need to go through the full planning application process)
  • measures to provide public service infrastructure (schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and prisons, young offenders’ institutions, and other criminal justice accommodation) more quickly through expanded permitted development rights and a streamlined planning application process
  • the approach to simplifying and consolidating existing permitted development rights following changes to the Use Classes Order.

HMG’s Consultation Document can be seen here

Broadly, the Society felt that it was premature for the Government to plough on with the changes set out, given that they have yet to respond to the concerns raised by the Society and many others (44,000 responses in total) about the basis and practicality of the earlier reform proposals set out in the ‘Planning for the Future’ consultation document (August 2020). In summary, our view is that these latest proposals (as with the earlier consultation) are:

  • thinly researched in terms of evidence of the nature and cause of problems
  • failing to consider the wider context in terms of the role of town centres, the lack of resources within local authorities to speed up the planning process, the shortage of funding for public sector building projects
  • excluding local people from planning approval decisions in their own areas
  • an almost ‘Soviet style’ centralisation of control towards national government which does not sit well in terms of either efficiency or effectiveness (nor the liberal democratic tradition of this country).

Here is our full response to this consultation