The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 11 March, this Budget now seems long distant. The whole country has been overtaken by events and the forthcoming Planning White paper announced at the Budget may seem irrelevant now but the impact may be of real interest once the nation is through the Covid 19 outbreak (or perhaps once a vaccine is available).
The advance publicity for the planning white paper is suggesting a combination of protection and relaxation. Maintaining control through the enforcement of the Green Belt and protection for conservation areas and site of importance for nature conservation while relaxing some permitted development rights including being able to build upwards in principle and a new town centre use class which combines use classes A1 – A3. The government have also recognised that onshore wind could have an important part to play in cheap renewable energy as part of its climate change agenda. The break on onshore wind is likely to be lifted, but it may be restricted to certain locations where the impact on landscape can be minimised.
The government have finally recognised that unfettered use of Class ‘O’ office to residential conversions is creating slums and inadequate housing. Less than 20% of class ‘O’ conversions meet national space standards and there is no requirement to fund public services or provide for affordable housing which is plainly unfair and cannot be justified.
In the future developers will have to provide the council with prior notification including floorplans and elevations. Whilst a Class ‘O’ conversion should not be exempt from making community contributions and payments towards affordable housing, at least making a requirement to a decent space standard and layout will prevent some of the most damaging aspects of Class ‘O’ from continuing.
Jonathan Jenkin, Managing Director, Planning & Design Practice Ltd