Planning must be properly funded if permitted development is scrapped, says FMB

IF a future Labour Government was to scrap commercial to residential permitted development it must also come forward with proposals to properly resource our chronically underfunded planning system, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Responding to an announcement by the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “If Labour is going to put more strain on the planning system by scrapping commercial to residential permitted development, it must also think carefully about how planning will be resourced. Small and medium-sized house builders cite the planning process as the third greatest barrier to them increasing their delivery of new homes. Planning departments are chronically underfunded and we can’t ask them to do more without providing them with additional funding.”

Berry continued: “We mustn't make permitted development synonymous with poor quality as it can have create really positive outcomes. In recent years, permitted development rules governing domestic properties have been relaxed, which has made it easier for home owners to extend their homes without having to go through the rigmarole of a full planning application. These permissions have proved popular among builders and home owners alike. The reason being is that they give even more people the opportunity to add a bit more space – eight metres for a detached house and six metres for an attached house – to their home. In short, let’s not damn all permitted development. It would also be good to see proposals from Labour regarding how we can more easily convert empty spaces above shops. There are 300,000 to 400,000 new homes which could be created by making use of empty spaces above shops on our high streets. Surely we make use of permitted development regulations in a way that utilises these spaces without bringing to market tiny uninhabitable homes. This would have the added benefit of revitalising our struggling high streets across the country.”

Berry concluded: “We do completely accept the point that we must prevent ‘rabbit hutch’ homes without windows being developed under permitted development. Tiny uninhabitable homes are not something the FMB would ever support. Small and medium-sized construction firms compete on quality and that’s at the heart of everything they do. We support Labour’s drive to reform permitted development to prevent low quality conversions and will work with them to achieve this.”

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