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RIBA condemns plan to extend permitted development

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has expressed significant concerns in its response to the Government consultation on planning reforms.

14 January 2019

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (Monday 14 January) expressed significant concerns in its response to the government consultation on planning reforms. The consultation proposes to extend a policy related to the change of use of buildings from offices to homes, which has already been proven to lead to substandard housing.

The government’s Planning Reform: Supporting the High Street and Increasing the Delivery of New Homes consultation report suggests plans will introduce flexibility to react to local circumstances by allowing employment space to be converted into residential easily. However, in its consultation response, the RIBA has warned of the damaging consequences that would result from expanding a policy which since it was established in 2013 has led to a drastic decline in standards across England.

Under the new plans, the volume of development that can go ahead without the proper scrutiny from local authorities would be further increased. The reforms which have already been put in place have seen homes of 13 square metres, which can be smaller than some hotel rooms.*

With the Hackitt Review highlighting the scale of the UK’s building safety problems, it is incredibly concerning that policies like permitted development which have demonstrably lowered standards are being pursued.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said,

“We need homes that are sustainable, long-lasting, affordable and contribute to the health and happiness of the people that live in them. These proposals would enable homes to be built without any scrutiny - undermining the planning system and resulting in a race to the bottom to create the cheapest possible housing. It is unacceptable that families end up living in developments like these, with not enough space to live well.

If we are serious about tackling the housing crisis, creating homes that last and reforming the high street, we need a properly resourced planning system that enables local authorities to consider the merits of proposals on a case by case basis, not a policy that allows shoddy, small and inadequate homes.”


Notes to editors

*Newbury House Ilford – smallest room 13 square metres

  1. For further press information contact Elise Neve +44 (0)20 7307 3761
  2. The RIBA’s full consultation response can be found here.
  3. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow us on Twitter for regular RIBA updates

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