The Local Government Association made the news the other week by calling for an end to the permitted development rights (PDR) that allow developers to bypass certain parts of the planning process when undergoing building renovations.
But local authorities should not be too quick to withdraw PDR as it ensures that we create new homes where needed, more quickly, as the latest housebuilding figures show.
This scheme has been successful in spurring the creation of new homes across the country. In certain regions it makes up two thirds of all new housing. In Stevenage, where Platform_ built and now operates almost 100 homes, PDR makes up 73% of all new homes – it definitely has a positive impact when you consider the housing pressures the South East faces.
Crucially, PDR allows developers to regenerate unused or outdated buildings quickly and without needing to install new infrastructure. It allows for a more environmentally sustainable process than knocking down an old building and starting from scratch with a new development.
At Platform_ we used PDR to support our first five developments, which all transformed unused office space into residential space, creating 600 new apartments – and the country’s first branded regional build-to-rent portfolios.
Find out more: Platform_ soul - Jean-Marc Vandevivere interview
This is not to say that the PDR system is perfect but there are mechanisms in place to prevent the unchecked expansion of property developers. Local authorities can apply for a special exclusion, which limits either the area in which PDR applies or the extent to which it can be used.
Indeed this exclusion has been put in place by most of the London boroughs. Rather than a blanket ban, individual local authorities should be trusted to evaluate whether they will benefit from PDR schemes or not. This flexibility can be extended to rules on how long a building needs to be empty before it is eligible for PDR.
Rather than take aim at what may be an imperfect yet effective system and do away with it entirely, we need to be finding ways to ensure the delivery of more homes to more people. PDR is helping to get this done and it should be allowed to continue to do so in the years to come.