The Local Government Association (LGA) recently published its thoughts on the relaxation of the planning laws for change of use of buildings as recommended by Mary Portas. They warned that the changes “risk draining the life from the high street” but at Dayle Bayliss Associates we disagree.
Looking at our local town of Ipswich, the majority of the high street is protected from these laws due to having conservation area status, so we’re only talking about small sections, such as when as you head towards the Regent. The implications for Ipswich could be huge, and can be extremely positive. We should look at this as an opportunity to adapt our high streets to changing needs and use this as a driver to ensure their long term viability.
Developers have an opportunity to bring these buildings back into productive use, and , in consultation with local people, they can regenerate unwanted office space and revitalise the town centre. Not only that, but the town centre would benefit from increased footfall and subsequently the local economy would be boosted. with people being closer to our high streets we can have a more vibrant place that has activity throughout the day, a nod to the café culture of thriving European towns and cities. Town centres shouldn’t just be a place for shopping, they can become destinations for socialising and enjoying our built spaces.
Our needs in office buildings has changed and there aren’t the economic drivers to see these in long term use in some locations. Air conditioned, open plan space with ample parking are what business look for and inner town spaces can’t always offer this. When this is the case isn’t it a better option to adapt these spaces to meet housing demands and a driver to get people onto our high streets.
The LGA is concerned that the high street will end up full of the types of shops that local residents don’t want to see due to the lack a planning consent requirement. The focus of the LGA has been on the negative impacts, the London Evening Standard reported that “Big chains are bidding against each other to secure premises and avoid local councils’ attempts to block planning permission. They are moving into failing restaurants around London, as these already have a higher planning rating and don’t need council approval to start trading.” However, a number of London Boroughs have opted out of the permitted development changes, recognising that the need for office space is an essential part of our business centre and have demonstrated on economic grounds a need to out. The opportunities for developers to use this for regeneration are a positive step. Where our heritage needs to be protected this is covered under legislation so we believe this is a positive step for economic regeneration whilst safe guarding key areas.
As well as the amendments to rules on change of use, Government ministers have also announced a three-year relaxation of the planning rules to allow single-storey extensions of up to eight metres for detached houses and six metres for other houses to be built without planning consent.
We believe this will also be beneficial to families in East Anglia who might want to improve homes without the expense of moving but they will have to move quick to make the changes within the three year time frame.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the idea was to cut bureaucracy, create more homes and allow for homeowners to make improvements without the restrictions of red tape.
He said he hoped there would be “knock-on benefits to the wider community”.
“There is huge untapped potential in the many disused existing buildings we have and we’re determined that every one of them is put to good use,” he added.
The changes came into force on 30 May.
Dayle Bayliss Design and Construction Consultants specialise in architectural design, building surveying and project management. For more information on our services email us at email@example.com