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A bonfire of red tape in the planning system, proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday to get the economy moving again after the coronavirus pandemic, would result in the delivery of lower-quality buildings.
That’s the warning from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which was responding to Johnson’s planning proposals.
Johnson said he would allow commercial buildings to be converted into housing without planning permission in most cases, while developers will be able to demolish vacant and redundant buildings without normal planning permission, so long as they are rebuilt as homes.
Meanwhile, businesses will also be able to change a property’s use, such as converting a shop into a cafe, without the same level of restrictions.
The announcement came as Johnson promised to “build, build, build” and promised £5bn of investment to accellerate intrastructure projects.
But Tom Fyans, policy and campaigns director at CPRE said: “Deregulating planning and cutting up red tape simply won’t deliver better quality places. It’s already far too easy to build poor quality homes. Our research has shown that three quarters of large housing developments are mediocre or poor in terms of their design and should not have been granted planning permission. Transferring decision making power from local councils and communities and handing them to developers is the exact opposite of building back better.
“The best way to deliver the places that we need, at the pace we need them, is to make it easier for local councils to get local plans in place, and then to hold developers to those plans. One glimmer of hope in the prime minister’s words are those prioritising building on brownfield to release pressure on greenfield sites. But if we are to truly build back better, and ‘level up’ across the country, we need to make sure the voice of local communities are strengthened in shaping the homes and places that they will inherit.”