Editor: The extension of permitted development rights (PDR) is the clearest sign yet of the low regard afforded to the quality of the homes we provide in the UK.

Run down office

Source: Shutterstock /Thomas Holt

While PDR offers a creative contribution to tackling the housing shortage, the disregard for quality is an unintended consequence that must be addressed urgently.

Converting redundant offices to residential use is a good idea in principle. But why should this produce homes as small as 158 sq ft when new homes are at least 538 sq ft to comply with Nationally Defined Space Standards, which don’t apply to office conversions?

Has the government turned a blind eye to these inconsistencies in its eagerness to be seen to be doing something about the housing crisis? While the PDR strategy meets two government objectives – building homes faster and diversifying the sector – it hardly meets the third; to “plan the right homes in the right places”.

This issue can be addressed by ensuring that the same planning and building regulations apply to office conversions as they would to other conversions.

Rules on affordable housing provision do not apply to office conversions. Shelter estimates that the UK has missed out on as many as 10,000 affordable homes as a result of the loophole, as the housing shortfall continues to soar.

Many housing associations were formed to address the slums of the 1950s and 1960s and have offered good quality, safe, secure, affordable homes to those in need – surely we can’t be creating a new wave of slum homes that deny those in greatest need?

Tim Pinder, CEO, Peaks & Plains Housing Trust