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MHCLG consultation on planning reform - Law Society response

18 January 2019

The Planning and Environmental Law Committee has published its response on behalf of the Law Society to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation: 'Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes'.

This consultation stemmed from the government’s commitment to simplifying and speeding up the planning system, to support the high street, make effective use of land and deliver more homes.

Building on existing planning reforms, the government consulted on proposals aiming to allow greater change of use to support high streets to adapt and diversify, support extending existing buildings upwards to create additional homes, and speed up the delivery of new homes.

We recognise the urgent need to increase the housing stock. In this regard, the proposals to extend permitted development rights to allow for the construction of, or conversion to, residential use appears attractive.

However, in reality, the Law Society is concerned that the numbers likely to be produced through this means will be inconsequential in meeting that demand.

We have taken a holistic approach in our response and focused on a selection of questions under part one: permitted development rights and use classes and part two: disposal of local authority land of the consultation

The revised National Planning Policy Framework seeks to “ensure the vitality of our town centres by taking a positive approach to their growth, management and adaptation”.

We are of the view that this positive approach is best delivered through the formulation and delivery of locally-appropriate strategies, via the plan-led approach rather than nationally-determined and ‘one size fits all’ permitted development solutions.

The Law Society believes that change should be positively managed through the planning system which provides the ability for change to be carefully managed so as not to have unintended consequences.

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