Landlords are calling on local authorities not to become roadblocks to delivering the new homes the country desperately needs.
The message, from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), comes amidst rumours that the Government plans to make permanent planning reforms to convert disused office spaces into homes without planning permission.
In May 2013, Ministers introduced the measure to make it easier to convert redundant, empty and under-used office space into new homes. Whilst this policy is set to expire next May, it is now believed the Government will make the reform permanent.
According to recent reports in the journal, ‘Planning’ some local authorities are preparing to use powers, known as Article 4 Directions, to safeguard office space in their districts. This would mean planning permission would be required to convert such buildings to homes where they fall empty.
The RLA is calling on local authorities to respect the spirit of the Government’s planning reforms and not stand in the way of developing the new homes the country needs.
RLA Policy Director, David Smith said:
“Between 1996 and 2013, eighty three per cent of new homes were in the private rented sector, so landlords have a good record of delivering the extra housing the country needs.
“With the sector expected to account for twenty five per cent of UK households by 2025, it is vital that the planning system does not put unnecessary obstacles in the way of landlords seeking to meet this demand.
“The Government’s intentions are clear and local authorities should not seek to thwart them.
“Instead, councils have an opportunity to show themselves to be willing partners in delivering the mix of homes their communities need.”
- Details of the Government’s initial proposals to make it easier to convert empty and unused office space into homes can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/change-of-use-new-homes.
- Reports that councils are seeking to pre-empt a decision to make the Government’s planning reform permeant and prevent office space from being converted to new homes when empty are contained within the current issue of the journal ‘Planning’ in a report by Ben Kochan entitled “How Councils are Preparing Article 4 Directions as Ministers Mull Permanent Conversion Right.”
- The English Housing Survey Bulletin (Issue 3) shows that between 1996 and 2013 the total number of dwellings in England increased by 3 million of which the private rented sector accounted for 2.5 million (83%). Details at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/453668/Bulletin_12Aug2015_FINAL.pdf.
- Recent research by PwC has indicated that around 25% of UK households will be in the private rented sector by 2025. Details at http://www.pwc.co.uk/the-economy/publications/uk-economic-outlook/ukeo-july2015-housing-market-outlook.jhtml.