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- By Andy Smith
A campaign group has launched a judicial review to stop new laws allowing developers to build homes on disused commercial sites without going through the planning process by using enhanced permitted development rights (PDR).
The group, Rights: Community: Action (RCA), is challenging
the use of statutory instruments to extend PDR. The reforms were laid before parliament,
as part of a package of measures put forward by housing secretary Robert
Jenrick, who wants to cut red tape in the planning system.
They were due to become law yesterday (31 August), ahead of
parliament reconvening today (1 September). The changes will allow disused
offices, shops or warehouses to be repurposed or demolished and new houses
constructed and for up to two storeys to be built above existing detached
A number of construction professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), have expressed concern to Jenrick that the extension of PDR could lead to a decline in construction quality.
Now solicitors Leigh Day, acting for RAC, have issued the
claim and an urgent interim order to delay the new rules on PDR until its legal
challenge is resolved. Jenrick has received a pre-action protocol letter
calling for the statutory instruments to be paused until a strategic
environmental assessment, impact assessments and a parliamentary debate occurs.
Naomi Luhde-Thompson, the coordinator for RCA and a former
Friends of the Earth planning and policy advisor, said: “The prime
minister admits these are the biggest planning reforms since the Second World
War, yet they’re being rushed through with scant regard for the previous
consultation and in a period which excludes the input of MPs.
“We believe these changes will have a phenomenally
negative impact on the people and environment of towns and cities across
England. That’s why we feel compelled to act so urgently.”
The action group argues the government has failed to take on
board previous consultation responses and its own experts’ advice about the
existing permitted development rights.