The next Labour government – should there be one, of course – will abolish rules that allow developers to avoid building social housing and instead create ‘slum housing’, or so the currently not-in-power Labour party has promised.
Introduced in 2013 by the Tory-led coalition, permitted development rights allow housebuilders to circumvent normal planning rules and local authorities when converting former commercial spaces into homes.
The handy loophole alleviates builders of the demand to supply new affordable homes while simultaneously gifting them the strange right to avoid normal space standards, and are thus free to construct flats that are only a few feet wide should they wish.
The Tories and their Lib Dem underlings introduced the rules to give a quick fix to housebuilding figures – however, like much of the coalition’s oeuvre, the plan seems to have backfired/failed miserably, with the local Government Association estimating that over 10,000 affordable homes have been lost to the literally dodgy rules in the last three years.
Meanwhile, in another damning blow, research by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reveals that permitted development rights have ‘allowed extremely poor-quality housing to be developed’, with only 30% of homes created via the rules meeting space standards.
Since 2015, 42,000 housing units have been birthed in former commercial buildings.
According to John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, the Tories’ ‘permitted development rules have created a get-out clause for developers to dodge affordable homes requirements and build slum housing’.
The MP added: ‘To fix the housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable, high-quality homes. This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need.
‘Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs.’