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Permitted development ‘could damage health’, warn council bosses

Newbury house
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Council chiefs have raised fears that homes created without the need for planning consent could pose a threat to health

A poll of senior staff at local authorities across the UK showed that 49 per cent of respondents believed permitted development could damage inhabitant wellbeing.

More than 18,000 homes were created in 2016/17 under government rules that allow certain projects without a full planning process. Ministers unveiled plans last autumn to widen the scope of permitted development further.

But a poll by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) showed major concerns over the way homes were being created under the system. Of 107 respondents to the specific question, 52 said permitted development could prove dangerous for health, while 32 did not know and only 23 firmly said it was safe.

Furthermore, 49 per cent of respondents said vulnerable people were disproportionately negatively affected by permitted development of homes.

One respondent said allowing developers to bypass the usual planning process was creating ‘21st-century slums’.

Another said conversions could be carried out that ‘do not reach health and safety standards’.

Elsewhere comments included: ‘Often such development is not properly provided for, and vulnerable people and young children are ending up living in the middle of employment sites.’

APSE chief executive Paul O’Brien said: ‘Permitted developments are in danger of becoming the new slum housing of the 21st century, de facto permitting a dangerous slide into deregulated and ultimately damaging housing provision.’

The online survey was sent to the leader, chief executive, chief finance officer, chief housing officer, chief planning officer and chief economic development officer at every council in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as other senior positions.

Four in 10 respondents said Brexit would make it harder for them to increase homebuilding, with only 2 per cent expecting it to become easier to hit housing targets when the UK leaves the EU. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • What all of these comments fail to realise is that all of these issues would be addressed through the Building Control process, especially if the idea of minimum room standards is adopted by Building Control. As a result we may actually achieve housing standards for private buyers that might at least meets those applied for social housing by the housing associations. Quite frankly, I fail to see what real benefit the Planning Process has brought to society since its inception. All that has been 'achieved' is the segregation of land use making us all more reliant on private transport to get around and a multitude of very dubious decisions. Obtaining a consent is often a lottery decided upon by committees with little understanding of design, hence the predominance of very lacklustre design by the major housebuilders.
    Anything that bypass this bureaucratic system is to be welcomed.

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