Land agent, Aston Mead, has welcomed the national space requirements which will be imposed on all new houses delivered through Permitted Development Rights from this April.
Since 2013, developers have been able to change existing office and light-industrial buildings into homes without the need to go through a full planning application. Instead, such houses have a lighter-touch ‘prior approval’ process, which considerably speeds up their delivery.
Richard Watkins, Aston Mead Land & Planning Director, said: “We’ve been calling for a speedier, smoother, fast-track planning procedure for years. But, crucially, this should not come at the expense of adequate space and light. Sadly, there are a minority of developers out there who have been abusing the system. These new rules should end their sanction to squeeze-in as many homes as possible, and their disregard for daylight.
“Make no mistake – these shoe box-style homes are substandard. You wouldn’t even find this lack of space in a budget hotel, so why anyone would believe they are suitable for people to live in is beyond me.”
The new standards set out the minimum floor space allowed for various configurations of a new home – starting at 37 square metres for a studio flat and 50 square metres for a flat with a double bedroom.
However, a recent report from University College London and the University of Liverpool found that fewer than one in four dwellings created through permitted development would meet nationally described space standards.
Richard adds: “It may only be a minority of developers who are abusing the system – but unfortunately it accounts for a majority of PDR homes out there.”
“This has become even more important during lockdown when people have been stuck indoors for days on end. Indeed, the lasting legacy of the pandemic will be the increase in the number of people working from home in the future. This means more redundant offices are likely to be converted into residential accommodation – so setting minimum space requirements will become even more important.
“What’s more, building societies and lenders are now paying closer attention to this issue, and poorly-converted offices in the wrong locations are struggling to get loans against them. And if you can’t get mortgages, you can’t sell them.
“Now we want to see these minimum standards apply to all new homes – even those outside the PRD sector, where, bizarrely, they are still optional. Adequate space and light should be a given in the 21st Century. It’s a minimum possible standard and the least we should expect from developers. And this new law will ensure they have to provide it.”