Joint statement on Permitted Development Rights: England

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We, the undersigned, express our deep concern about the latest proposals for the expansion of Permitted Development Rights in England.

These proposals[1]  will lower housing standards and accessible natural green infrastructure provision, extinguish local democracy, and end public participation. Communities and their local councils have simply lost control of many of the forms of development that matter most to them.

Permissions for over one million new homes are already in place but not built out according to the Local Government Association. There is little case to be made that the current system does not deliver consent for development.

Existing permitted development rights have resulted in what the Government’s own report has called poor quality homes. Much less funding is going to local authorities as a result of these changes. Councillors and MPs across the spectrum have voiced their deep concern at the size, quality, amenity, design, location and climate change implications of these developments.

This consultation proposes to consolidate the relaxation of the use class order and extends and makes permanent existing permitted development rights. Town planning as we have known it will not apply to the vast majority of development in urban areas.

The intention to apply these private rights to conservation areas, and to exclude design and climate mitigation and adaptation from the list of very limited matters which councils can think about before giving approval is extremely damaging. Losing control of town centres to private interests will do nothing to secure their comprehensive regeneration in the public interest post the pandemic. Local people are being locked out of any say on the shape and feel of their communities and civic places.

We believe that local people and local businesses are best placed to lead the process of change that will result from a reduced need for existing retail space. Local communities will often want to see a range of other uses apart from retail and housing. There is an increasing interest, for example, in turning over town centre space for more health and wellbeing related purposes. Where new housing is appropriate, planning safeguards are needed to make sure that the homes provided best match local needs for more genuinely affordable and quality homes with accessible natural green space. The Government’s proposals will offer no such safeguards.

We believe that the planning system needs to ensure:

Locally democratically accountable decisions

A right to have a say over the decisions which will transform communities

More genuinely affordable homes for local people Environmental protection and recovery for biodiversity, and provision of accessible natural green space and conservation

The application of strong climate change mitigation and adaptation duties.


Signed by:

Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles, Co-Chief Executives, Friends of the Earth
Hugh Ellis, Director of Policy, Town and Country Planning Association
Crispin Truman, Chief Executive, CPRE
Ian Harvey, Executive Director, Civic Voice
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive, UK Green Building Council
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, The RSPB
Darren Moorcroft, Chief Executive, The Woodland Trust
Peter Hinton, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
David McDonald, Chair, Institute of Historic Building Conservation
Neil Redfern, Executive Director, Council for British Archaeology
Anna Liberadzki, Senior Campaigner, SumOfUs
Tom Platt, Director of Advocacy and Engagement, The Ramblers
Kit Stoner, Chief Executive, Bat Conservation Trust
Nicola Hodgson, Case Officer, Open Spaces Society
Fiona Mathews, The Mammal Society
Tony Gent, Chief Executive Officer, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Steve Chambers, Sustainable Transport Campaigner, Transport for New Homes
Naomi Luhde-Thompson, Director, Rights Community Action

13th January 2021


April 2021 update:

We are pleased to note that, due to the level of criticism directed at the proposed changes to Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in England, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the government’s approach to PDR before the new rights are due to come into effect from 1 August 2021. Our case officer Nicola Hodgson has contributed wording on protection of green space and rights of way to the evidence submitted by Wildlife and Countryside Link.

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