EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Changes are not about building homes but creating a new wave of slums
Last week the Government announced significant changes to planning legislation.
This de-regulation will allow an extension of the current provision for wealthy developers to bypass planning permission and convert offices into flats.
Buildings will be allowed to extend upwards or to be demolished without planning permission. Vacant town centre premises will also be allowed to be converted into homes and current local affordable housing rules will be scrapped.
Independent research conducted under the previous Prime Minister stated that over 70% of properties that had been converted into homes under similar rights were one-bedroom flats and studios, of poor quality, cramped and led to a poor quality of life for the residents in them. Some of these homes were only 16 square metres.
Section 106 agreements, which currently require private developers to build a number of social homes, will also be scrapped. This change is not about building more homes, it is about creating a new wave of slum housing.
Worse still, these sweeping changes also side-line the roles that local authorities and local communities have in the planning process, silencing any local objections.
The system will become democratically unaccountable.
Presently, people can voice their concerns over developments when local plans are made and the application submitted but, under these proposals, they will only be able to object when local plans are being made. After that, central government zoning commissions will designate land as “developable” and allow owners of it to do as they wish, within the law.
The proposals have been criticised and described as “shameful”.
It is no coincidence then that property tycoons have donated £11m to the Tory Party since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
Coronavirus has shown more than ever how important it is to have a safe, decent and comfortable home.
We have a housing crisis in this country yet in the years of current Tory rule they have done everything they can to avoid building high-quality, genuinely affordable, environmentally sustainable housing that is so desperately needed.