The Planning Committee is asked to note the contents of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation on planning reforms to allow greater flexibility within high streets and to speed up the delivery of houses, and to endorse the proposed response to part one of the consultation which proposes changes to permitted development rules.
The Committee considered this report concerning the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation and the Council’s proposed response on planning reforms circulated with the agenda. Mrs Stevens advised that any typographical errors in the response would be amended.
Mrs Stevens outlined the report and explained that officers did not have concerns about some of the planning reforms proposed. However, they did have significant concerns about some of the proposals, which they considered would result in the Planning Authority having less control over development and some being in conflict with the Council’s Local Plan. The proposals included encouraging more flexibility on high streets by allowing commercial premises to change between use classes without having to apply for planning permission, and merging A1, A2 and A3 into a single use class. This, and any form of prior approval, was of concern as it could result in a loss of control of retail within Chichester city and the Districts local centres. With regard to proposals for a new permitted development right (PDR) to extend premises upwards to allow for more residential homes, officers had concerns about the control officers would have if planning permission was no longer required and its impact no longer assessed in light of the Council’s planning policies. Officers were generally supportive of the removal of the PDR to advertise on new public call boxes as their need was limited. With regard to height limits for on-street electric charging points, officers did not feel that this would affect residentialamenity and it would promote sustainable forms of transport. The proposals to make permanent two time-limited PDRs, the first for change of use from storage to residential was not considered acceptable as it was important to retain business floor space, and the second for large householder extensions was acceptable had it because it not been problematic. Also of concern was the loss of business space if the demolition of commercial buildings was allowed for development as residential if allowed under PDR. Officers accepted that housing was a priority but should be considered via planning applications to assess if proposals were appropriate.
Mrs Stevens responded to members’ questions and comments. With regard to the A use classes changing to B1 office use and the potential that this could lead to office use then being turned to residential under the proposed PDR, Mrs Stevens stated that the Government had not provided all the details of what will be included in the PDR but it was thought that this loophole may be closed so that a development under PDR cannot benefit from other PDRs in line with some of the existing permitted development rules. In terms of a possible exemption for historic city centres and conservation areas, land classed under Article 2(3) of the General Permitted Development Order included conservation areas and AONBs. The South Downs National Park would also have certain exemptions, which officers would check and add further comments to the consultation if necessary. It was considered that it would be difficult to use article 4 directions to restrict development in the District that would otherwise be permitted under the new proposals.
Mrs Stevens advised that members’ concerns on the proposals would be added to the draft officer response.
Mr Frost added that the impact of the extensions made to PDRs over the last few years, both in the high street and rural areas, had resulted in having to plan for more employment land in the Council’s employment policies due to the amount lost under PDR.
That the contents of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation on planning reforms to allow greater flexibility within high streets and to speed up the delivery of houses be noted, and that the Committee endorses the proposed response to part one of the consultation which proposes changes to permitted development rules.