Over 18,000 affordable houses lost in office-to-residential conversions

The representative body of 350 councils in England and Wales is lobbying for permitted development rights to be removed to ensure all conversions and new developments contribute to the delivery of affordable homes across the country.

The LGA claims more than 18,000 affordable houses have been lost as a result of office-to-residential conversions under permitted development. A total of 73,575 new houses have been converted from offices under permitted development rights, where full planning permission is not required, since 2015.

It also says that developments that go through the planning system are subject to more stringent quality assurance, subsequently improving the overall quality of housing on offer, a key priority in the Levelling Up White Paper.

Councillor David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “There is a need for more affordable housing across the country but regrettably premises such as offices, agricultural buildings, shops, restaurants and light industry can now be converted into houses without the need to provide any affordable homes.

“This is why we would like to see the permitted development rights removed. Giving planning powers back to councils will also support local ambitions to revive and reimagine high streets and town centres.

“A local, plan-led system is crucial in delivering on levelling up ambitions to ensure councils can deliver the right types of homes in the right places with appropriate infrastructure, ensuring a mix of high-quality affordable housing that meets the needs of local communities, while also giving those communities the opportunity to shape and define the area they live in.”

Patrick Mooney, Editor