Lib Dems pledge end to office-to-residential permitted development rights

The Liberal Democrats' 2019 election manifesto has pledged to scrap office-residential permitted development rights and "reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure".

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. Image: Wikimedia
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. Image: Wikimedia

The manifesto, launched by party leader Jo Swinson yesterday, includes a series of pledges related to planning.

These include a commitment to build at least 100,000 homes for social rent across England every year and ensure annual housing delivery in England tops 300,000 units. 

Permitted development rights allowing offices and shops to be converted to housing without a planning application would be scrapped, the manifesto says, in a bid to "protect our high streets and town centres".

A spokeswoman for the Lib Dems said all policy pledges applied UK-wide except in areas of devolved responsibility, such as planning.

The manifesto also hints at changes to developer contributions, with a commitment to "reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure".

Similarly, the party promises to "amend planning rules to promote sustainable transport and land use".

Specific transport policies include the creation of a national walking and cycling strategy and commitment to High Speed Two, Crossrail 2, and "other major new strategic rail routes".

A moratorium on development of new airport runways would be imposed, and the party says it would also oppose expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted and any new airport in the Thames Estuary.

Environmental pledges include plans to "protect" up to a million acres of accessible green space and to create a new designation of "National Nature Parks".

Local Green Spaces would also be given "the force of law", the manifesto says.

Meanwhile, the party says it would establish a "blue belt" or protected marine areas covering at least 50 per cent of UK waters by 2030.

Promises on flood prevention include the establishment of a £5 billion fund to improve defences and the introduction of "high standards for flood resilience" for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas.

The party says it would "continue to champion investment" in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine and would commit "significant capital resources" into infrastructure projects in these regions.

Under the party’s plans, a national industrial strategy would sit above local industrial strategies and would encourage businesses and universities with particular specialisms to cluster together.

All local authorities would be expected to produce a zero carbon strategy, the manifesto says, including plans for local energy, transport and land use.

Restrictions on the development of solar and wind energy projects would also be lifted and more funding provided for renewable power projects, the party says, adding that all new homes would be required to have solar panels installed.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to review planning rules governing music venues in a bid to protect them from closure.

The Labour Party 2019 election manifesto pledges to "put the voices of local people at the heart of planning" and includes a requirement that "the climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions" made by councils. 

Earlier this week, the Green Party published its election manifesto pledging to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to allow local authorities to calculate their own housing need.

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