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January 6, 2019 5:00 PM

Communities may have missed out on more than 10,000 desperately-needed affordable homes in the past three years Affordable Housing

As a result of government rules allowing developers to bypass the planning system to convert offices, council's may have missed out on more than 10,000 desperately-needed affordable homes in the past three years

The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says permitted development rules allowing offices to be converted into housing without planning permission are exacerbating the nation's housing affordability crisis and should be scrapped.

Some developers claim that planning is a barrier to house-building, but councils are approving nine in 10 planning applications.

'It is vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process" said LGA Lib Dem Group Leader Howard Sykesยท

Around two-thirds of Councils surveyed thought that both contributions by developers to affordable housing and contributions for other infrastructure through section 106 agreements had reduced.

Howard Sykes added, "Permitted development rules are taking away the ability of local communities to shape the area they live in, ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place and have resulted in the potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes'.

Latest figures show that since 2015, a total of 42,130 housing units in England have been converted from offices to flats without having to go through the planning system. As a result, they included no affordable housing or supporting investment in infrastructure such as roads, schools and health services.

While this amounts to approximately 7 per cent of new homes nationally, in some parts of the country it represents a much higher proportion of all new housing. Office to residential conversions under permitted development rules accounted for 40 per cent of new homes in Welwyn, Hatfield, Mole Valley, Croydon, Derby and in Jeremy Corbyn's Islington in 2017/18.

LGA ANALYSIS: By Ed Stephenson


Lib dems Demand Better (Lib Dems)