Richmond slams government plan for fast-track developments

In a statement published Tuesday (February 2), the council said Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick’s plans for the ‘permitted development right (PDR)’ would ignore the scrutiny of residents and local authorities on new developments.

PDR allows buildings currently in commercial or business use to be converted to residential use “without a formal planning application”.

Developers are now allowed to convert shops, bars, restaurants and warehouses into homes, without the consultation of the local council or community.

“Without oversight the Council will be unable to ensure that social infrastructure and support services are sufficient to support an increase in people living in an area, or to ensure that any new housing does not negatively impact the local area or existing communities.”

Cllr Julia Neden-Watts added:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of essential local facilities that are key to supporting sustainable communities.

“These permitted development right proposals would occur at the worst possible time, clashing with the economic and social recovery process and undermining the adaptation of our centres to become diverse, vibrant and successful locations once again.

“The effect on our high streets if shops and services gave way to higher value residential use would be devastating.

“Delivery of housing must not be at the expense of social infrastructure, particularly facilities that provide for young children or help residents lead active and healthy lifestyles.”

The government have previously defended the proposals as a way to “streamline the process, cut red tape and harness technology to deliver homes faster.”

Critics warn that Jenrick’s plans would cut the necessary regulations on housing by granting “automatic permission” for new developments in certain areas to be designated by the government.

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