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Campaign calls for office-to-resi halt before 'slums' built

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has launched a campaign to stop developers converting offices into housing developments.

The TCPA is calling on the government to reverse the policy of allowing office-to-resi conversions under permitted development rights, stating it leads to homes “in the wrong place and built to very low standards”.

The Room to Breathe campaign will call on the government to introduce minimum housing standards across the whole of the UK as well as bring together individuals and organisations to oppose the permitted development rules.

The TCPA’s interim chief executive Hugh Ellis has dubbed the relaxation of rules surrounding conversion of offices to housing as one of the biggest mistakes in government housing policy in the last 70 years.

He said: “Permitted development is one of the biggest housing mistakes in post-war history and the legacy will blight a whole generation of people who are condemned to live in tiny, cramped conditions without any basic care for their health and wellbeing.

“This policy must be stopped before we deliver 21st-century slums.”

According to the TCPA, the deregulation of the planning system has allowed housing conversions to be done without proper safeguards.

The TCPA states that up to 100,000 homes have already come through the new permitted development route, with the government considering plans to extend this right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and rebuilt as housing.

The extension to permitted development rights was unveiled as part of a raft of planning changes by chancellor Philip Hammond in the budget last month. Other plans include relaxing planning rules for high streets and also allowing rooftop extensions to provide extra homes.

The TCPA states that of the 100,000 homes to have been built, up to 70 per cent of the new homes do not meet basic space standards, and lack the basic infrastructure – such as play space and public transport – for families living in these new homes.

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