Councils warn of permitted development risk to health and wellbeing

Report finds half of councils in England think permitted development housing could threaten people’s health and wellbeing.

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Councils across England are warning that homes created using permitted development rights are a potential threat to people’s health and wellbeing, with the most vulnerable in society being more at risk.

A new report, Housing for a fairer society: The role of councils in ensuring stronger communities, has found that:

  • Half of councils in England think permitted development housing could threaten people’s health and wellbeing
  • Half of councils in England think vulnerable people are disproportionately negatively affected by permitted development
  • Demand for affordable housing has remained unchanged for four consecutive years, with 59% of UK councils reporting ‘severe’ shortages

The findings, published in a report by APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) and written by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), show local authorities across the UK are reporting ‘severe’ shortages of affordable housing for the fourth consecutive year, with only 2% claiming their need is ‘not substantial’.

Three quarters of councils in England and Wales said they rely on developer contributions as their main source of income for delivering affordable housing, calling into question the efficacy of the government’s market-led approach to housing delivery.

Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission, which allow certain building works and changes of use to be conducted without a planning application.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, said: “It is ironic that as we celebrate 100 years since the advent of council housing, and the ‘Addison Act’ standards on space and public amenities that were so innovative and important to the health and wellbeing of communities we are now witnessing a serious regression of these protections.

“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.”

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA added: “Local authorities have a powerful role in shaping existing and new places that can enhance people’s health and wellbeing, but it is essential that they have the tools they need.

“This report highlights there is still much to be done to enable local authorities to deliver the affordable houses people so desperately need.”

Among the report’s recommendations is the suspension of the Right To Buy in England, the reinstatement of a definition of affordable housing which links affordability to income, and the adoption of ‘community benefit clauses’ in planning policy to ensure that local authorities consistently maximise the wider benefits of the construction and development process.

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