Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 - Motion to Regret

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:10 pm on 27th October 2020.

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Photo of Lord Greenhalgh Lord Greenhalgh Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), The Minister of State, Home Department 3:10 pm, 27th October 2020

My Lords, I draw attention to my relevant commercial and residential property interests as set out in the register. We have had an interesting and wide-ranging debate and I thank the noble Lord, Lord German, for tabling the motion, and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee for its report drawing the statutory instruments to the House’s attention. I also thank noble Lords on all sides of the House for their contributions.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Thornhill and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, raised the Planning for the Future White Paper. We published it in August to set out our proposals for planning reform, and it recognises that the current planning system is complex and slow. I assure my noble friend Lord Herbert that there is absolutely no desire to build on England’s green and pleasant land: the focus must be on brownfield site development.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord German, Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Lord Greaves, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb and Lady Thornhill, raised important process issues. The statutory instruments being considered today are made under Section 59 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. That primary legislation enables the Secretary of State, through secondary legislation, to make a development order. Therefore, these statutory instruments were laid before Parliament under the negative resolution procedure, as is normal for all new permitted development rights.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wheatcroft, pointed out the positive impacts and benefits. Indeed, these measures form a package to support our economic response to coronavirus. They support the delivery of much-needed new homes through a simpler planning system and help businesses to continue to operate safely and respond quickly to changes in how communities use their high streets. The noble Lords, Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Lord Crisp, the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, and my noble friend Lord Herbert all raised the issue of quality design and space. To ensure that the new homes delivered under permitted development rights are quality homes, we have made it a requirement that natural light be provided in all habitable rooms of new homes delivered under such rights. We announced in the other place on 30 September that we will lay regulations to require all new homes delivered through permitted development rights to meet the nationally described space standards. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, these will be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, raised the issue that development can have a negative impact on neighbours and that this may occur during the construction of additional homes by building upwards. To ensure that this is considered before works commence, the developer has to prepare a report setting out the proposed hours of operation and how it intends to minimise any adverse impact of noise, dust, vibration and traffic movements during the building works on occupiers of the building and neighbouring premises. The local authority will consider whether the details set out in the construction management plan are appropriate. Where it is agreed that the developer is in breach of the plan, the local authority can take enforcement action.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, and the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, in his excellent maiden speech, raised the issue of affordable housing. Permitted development rights do not require affordable housing provision, which is predominantly delivered as part of the local planning authority’s housing programme. Local planning authorities are required to build for their housing needs, including for affordable housing provision. Permitted development rights, including the new rights for upwards extensions and demolition and rebuild, create new homes that support our ambition to increase housing delivery. They provide additional homes for sale or rent which may otherwise not have been developed. They are, to coin a phrase, “a Brucie bonus”. The new permitted development rights for upward extensions could be used by registered providers or local authorities on their blocks of flats or houses to create new affordable homes or additional living space for their tenants.

I congratulate my noble friend Lord Lancaster on an outstanding maiden speech. He made pointed reference to his dad, “the Master Blaster Pastor”, and I am delighted that he joins us in the House. I can confirm to him that the new permitted development rights do not allow the creation of houses in multiple occupation: the rights only allow single-dwelling houses, C3 use class, to build additional storeys, to extend a home or create new homes. An application for planning permission would be required if an owner wished to change such an extended home or a new flat into either a small house in multiple occupation or a large one for more than six people not living as a family. I hope that reassures my noble friend.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Uddin and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, raised the issue of a contribution by developers. Where new dwellings or additional floorspace are created through the rights, and a local authority has a charging schedule in place, a community infrastructure levy may be payable. We have consulted in the planning White Paper on the principle of introducing an infrastructure levy on permitted development schemes going forward. To answer the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, we continue to keep all rights under review in the cumulative impact assessment.

The noble Lord, Lord German, and the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, mentioned the reduced impact of community engagement as a result of these permitted development rights. The permitted development rights for building upwards and demolition and rebuild are subject to prior approval by the local planning authority. This allows the consideration of key planning matters. I reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, and the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, that among other matters, it can consider the external appearance of the building and the impact of the development on the amenity of the existing building and neighbouring premises, which includes overlooking, privacy and loss of light. The local authority is required put up a site notice and serve notice on all neighbours and occupiers. As with an application for planning permission, it must allow 21 days for comment on the proposals. Objections can be made on the matters for prior approval set out in the right, and the local authority is required to take into account any representations made to it as a result of any consultation when making its decision.

In answer to a specific point raised by my noble friend Lady Wheatcroft, the cap on height is to ensure that the maximum number of floors are created and to prevent the creation of one larger penthouse where two storeys of new homes could be created. This is all about the delivery of important, much-needed new housing. We must build, build, build, for the sake of our children and our children’s children. Delivering new homes and supporting our high streets and town centres is a key priority for this Government. These regulations are an important tool to help drive up housing delivery by simplifying and speeding up the planning system. They will also help town centre uses adapt to changing market demands, while providing protections for important uses.