Wednesday, 13 January 2021


On a number of occasions, I have written about the UK Government’s plans to dismantle the existing planning system, as set out in their White Paper titled “Planning for the Future.” I recently reported that the Planning Minister had back-tracked on the worst excesses of its new top-down “standard method” for housing targets, which would have imposed over 81,000 new properties on Cornwall over the next twenty years.

But I continue to maintain that the proposed changes would nonetheless be a disaster for Cornwall, and I have been somewhat taken aback that the UK Government is consulting on yet another change to planning. I would describe this latest proposal as frankly bonkers.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure,” and proposes allowing commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to simply change to residential use with little or no regulation.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” Unbelievably, it also states that there would be “no size limit on the buildings” that could benefit from the right.

Planning professionals are already raising concerns that the commercial heart of towns and cities could be undermined by the reforms but, ridiculously, the proposed changes would even allow very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent.

Developers would also be allowed to turn sizeable buildings into a large number of residential properties, without providing any local-needs housing or making any contributions for education provision or infrastructure.

In addition, it would mean that local planning authorities, such as Cornwall’s unitary authority, would be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

If you share my concerns about this ill-prepared, ill-considered and totally inappropriate proposal, please respond to the consultation. A link to the consultation can be found on my blog at:

Please also contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose the ongoing deregulation of the planning system.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that central government is pretty clueless on planning matters and does not comprehend what is appropriate for Cornish communities. We really do need to bring people together in a massive campaign to demand that all decisions on planning policy which affect Cornwall are taken in Cornwall.

[This is my article in this week’s Cornish Guardian].

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