Briefing: Westminster Hall Debate on Permitted Development Rights

By: Shaan Bhangal
Published: February 2020

Briefing: Westminster Hall Debate on Permitted Development Rights

There are over 280,000 homeless people in England today. At the root of this housing emergency is a dysfunctional land market and a lack of funding for social housing. This has led to a long-term failure to build enough of the homes that people need across the country. The planning system needs to ensure that high quality social housing is planned and delivered.

Despite this, the Government has started allowing new homes to be delivered outside of the planning system. This is called Permitted Development Rights (PDR). In recent years, PDR has been expanded dramatically from its original purpose, allowing developers to bypass almost all local planning processes to deliver new homes. The result has been: no contributions towards the social housing we need and many poor quality developments.

Developments built using PDR have no requirement to deliver any social or affordable homes and do not allow the enforcement of minimum quality or space standards. As a result, PDR developments place many families’ homes with an increased fire risk, among other serious health and safety risks. The poor quality of the developments delivered under PDR, and the use of these developments by local authorities to house homeless families in insecure and often inappropriate flats, has risen up the public and political agenda - illustrated in a recent episode of BBC’s Panorama.

Shelter are calling for PDR to be scrapped immediately and we are further calling on the Government to provide a renewed commitment to investment in social housebuilding to provide stable, high quality, housing for people who are homeless and for families and older people stuck renting privately.

In addition, we urge significant reform of the land market, addressing the 1961 Land Compensation Act in particular, which has been the true block on development for a number of years.