The shortage in building new homes in the UK has long been known and reported, but governments have failed cross-party to address the issue. This is the backdrop for reports this week that the Local Government Association (LGA) want the “permitted development” scheme scrapped.
Under permitted development, since 2013, developers have been allowed to convert offices to flats avoiding the planning process that can hamper other developments and of course is a time consuming effort.
In some places around the UK, as much of 75% of new homes developed have been under the permitted development scheme, an indicator that this is having quite a radical impact.
However, planners and the LGA are complaining that their visions for towns are being upset by people buying newly developed homes, in central locations where they are choosing to live. Apparently, permitted development is “undermining the vibrancy of cities where homes, shops and cities are jumbled together.” But haven't we all noticed around the country places where there are large, unused and empty office buildings – what are these really bringing to the table in terms of vibrancy?
Whilst accepting that it is important that a proportion of new homes should be social housing, and we do need to be ensuring that the new homes built are safe and appropriate, many new developments are supported also by Help-to-buy schemes which assist first time buyers getting on the property ladder and this is surely a good thing!
The fact that the planners and local governments are complaining that town centre development is BAD as it doesn't encourage us to cycle or walk to work seems like a stretch, especially when most town centres have a plethora of fitness clubs for those who wish to exercise.
Please, please, nanny state will you focus on the big picture of more needed housing being created rather than your assumed right to dictate how we all live?