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‘Immoral slums’: Raynsford slams government over permitted development policy


Former MP Nick Raynsford has accused the government of immorally producing slums through its Permitted Development Rights (PDR) policy

The one-time Labour housing minister has become the latest figure to criticise the government’s controversial and ongoing deregulation of the planning system which, among other things, has allowed thousands of homes to be built in former offices

Raynsford first called for PDR to be revoked in his 2018 review of the planning system for the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).

Now, in another report for the campaigning charity, Raynsford has reiterated his opposition, concluding that ‘government policy has led directly to the creation of slum housing’.

Raynsford says that ‘such slums will require immense public investment, either to refurbish them to a proper standard or to demolish them,’ adding: ‘Morally, economically and environmentally it is a failed policy.’

Last week, the Local Government Association revealed that, in some areas, up to 51 per cent of new homes are being delivered through PDR. The association joined bodies such as the RIBA and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in criticising PDR. 

As well as an end to PDR, Raynsford suggests the government should ‘implement minimum basic housing standards’ and embed the concept of health and wellbeing in planning.

A Ministry of Housing spokesperson defended the use of PDR in boosting the number of new homes, but pointed out that a ministerial review, launched last year, was looking at the quality standard of homes delivered.

‘We’ve also got to get the quality of these new homes right,’ they said. ‘Our review will be completed shortly and an announcement on its findings will be made in due course.’

Raynsford’s released his comments as a speech made by junior housing minister Esther McVey in October covering the same topic was officially published by the government.

McVey celebrated the use of PDR, saying: ‘We’re allowing offices, shops and barns to be converted to residential use – an approach that’s created 46,000 new homes in the last three years.’

She added that the government was ‘looking at extending the permission-in-principle approach to support demolishing old commercial buildings and their replacement with new homes’.

And she pointed out that the government has just introduced rights ‘to allow homes to be built above existing freestanding blocks of flats and commercial premises’.


Readers' comments (2)

  • One of the major problems is that there is no requirement under PDR to have s106 agreements - thus no contribution to the public benefit towards new schools/roads/healthcare buildings & other necessary infrastructure to support the extra demand from all these homes.

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  • Could the government's 'business model' for this type of development be assuming that these 21st century slums will see increasing child mortality rates, thus limiting the likely extra burden on education and healthcare?
    Of course, beneficiaries of current government favours to developers could be called on to privately fund local health facilities and schools; perhaps the Hon Robert Jenrick MP - defender of the beautiful - could nominate that well known philanthropist Richard Desmond, and of course it could be so much more rewarding than having literally sunk money into Boris & George's so bitterly lamented garden bridge venture.

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