The Native Authorities Affiliation warned communities might have misplaced out on “desperately wanted” reasonably priced housing via the usage of permitted improvement rights, permitting sure conversions to be carried out with out full planning permission.
Information from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Native Authorities reveals there have been 312 office-to-residential conversions in Wakefield within the 5 years to 2019-20.
Of these, 39 happened final yr, whereas 2016-17 noticed the best quantity carried out over the interval – 76.
A permitted improvement proper is basic planning permission granted by Parliament for sure developments and adjustments of use.
It permits builders to show workplace buildings into properties with out submitting a full planning software, so long as they meet lately launched necessities equivalent to having sufficient house and pure gentle.
It additionally means the everyday requirement to supply a proportion of reasonably priced housing can’t be enforced.
Workplace-to-residential permitted improvement rights had been first launched in 2013 as a brief measure to deal with the UK’s housing scarcity, with the laws changing into everlasting in 2015.
Throughout England, 65,000 such conversions have been carried out underneath the scheme within the final 5 years.
However David Renard, the LGA’s housing spokesman, mentioned “critical issues” stay over the excessive variety of properties which proceed to be created from former workplace buildings.
He added: “Permitted improvement guidelines are ensuing within the alarming potential lack of hundreds of desperately-needed reasonably priced properties.
“Planning just isn’t a barrier to house-building, with councils approving 9 in 10 planning purposes. It’s important that councils and native communities have a voice within the planning course of.”
In Wakefield, former workplaces accounted for simply 3% of the 9,368 web extra properties created within the space within the final 5 years – the entire of all new builds, conversions and adjustments of use minus any demolitions.
Against this, they made up 41% of latest properties within the Essex city of Harlow over the identical interval.
Polly Neate, chief govt of housing charity Shelter, mentioned permitting conversions of business buildings into residential via permitted improvement rights has been “an absolute catastrophe”.
She added: “It has resulted in tiny windowless properties no larger than a parking house, typically on distant industrial estates miles from colleges, outlets, or buses.
“Extending PDR additional to permit much more conversions will solely maintain producing unfit and unsuitable housing.
“If the Authorities actually desires to repair our housing emergency it must spend money on a brand new era of respectable social properties, not unexpectedly constructed rabbit hutches.”
An MHCLG spokesperson mentioned the fast-track system contributed to the supply of greater than 243,000 additional properties of every type final yr.
They added: “We’re investing over £12 billion in reasonably priced housing – the biggest funding in a decade – and the infrastructure levy in our planning reforms will guarantee builders ship not less than as a lot reasonably priced housing as underneath the present system.”