Local authority leaders have warned that communities are potentially losing out on thousands of affordable homes due to office conversions which bypass local planning offices.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has calculated that councils have possibly missed out on more than 13,500 affordable homes in the past four years because of the permitted development right.
The permitted development right allows homes to be created without going through the planning system.
The LGA argues that this right means communities cannot ensure developers meet high quality standards, provide affordable homes or ensure supporting infrastructure such as roads, schools and health services are in place.
The latest figures show that since 2015, there were 54,162 new homes converted from offices under permitted development in England. The LGA estimates this has potentially led to the loss of 13,540 affordable homes.
‘Serious concerns remain over the high numbers of homes which continue to be converted from offices without planning permission,’ said the LGA’s housing spokesman Cllr David Renard.
‘Permitted development rules are resulting in the alarming potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.’
While the total conversions amount to 6% of all new homes nationally, in some areas a high proportion of new housing is office-to-residential conversions.
Last year, 51% of all new homes in Harlow were office conversions, with 48% in Norwich and 43% in Three Rivers. Over a third of new housing in Spelthorne (39%) and Slough (35%) were also converted from offices.
‘Planning is not a barrier to house-building, with councils approving nine in 10 planning applications. It is vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process and are able to oversee all local developments,’ continued Cllr Renard.
‘By scrapping permitted development rules, the Government can give councils and local communities the ability to shape the area they live in and ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place.’
Local government minister Luke Hall previously said the review was ‘likely to conclude’ by the end of last year amid deep concern about the rights.