Developers 'converting empty banks, takeaways and barbers into tiny flats under new PD rights'

Claims that developers are 'exploiting' the latest expansion of permitted development (PD) rules while the impending devolution white paper will see 'significant numbers' of district councils abolished feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Sunday Times (subscription required) claims developers are “exploiting” new laws on permitted development rights (PDR) to “convert empty banks, takeaways and barbers into tiny flats” not bound by the minimum space standard of 37 square metres, and says over 60,000 such homes have been created since the introduction of PD rights in 2013. And while developers must now show that PD right flats have “adequate natural light in all habitable rooms”, no minimum window size is given, with officers expected to “exercise their planning judgment” when approving, the paper says.

The government is hoping the creation of “dozens more elected mayors”, under proposals expected in the devolution white paper next month, will “break Labour’s traditional stranglehold over local authorities, especially in the north”, The Times says. It quotes government sources saying that more directly elected regional leaders will “stimulate job creation, build homes, improve transport and reduce local carbon emissions”. It also says the paper includes plans to "abolish significant numbers of district councils".

A developer proposing to create a £10 million mixed-use scheme on a “long-term vacant” area Glasgow’s former Garden Festival site has formally appealed to the city council for a decision on permissions, which was initially due on 1 May, according to the Glasgow Times. “A review has been sought as the planning application has not been determined within the statutory period,” the appeal states. Glasgow’s planning review committee will now meet tomorrow to consider the appeal. The Pacific Quay site has been vacant since the festival in 1988, one of five such festivals held between 1984 and 1992 intended to reclaim urban former industrial sites.

The Scottish Government’s planned new regulation of short-term Airbnb-style lets is “a step forward”, Green councillor Chas Booth writes in the Edinburgh Evening News. A proposed full licensing regime “will also help tip the balance in residents’ favour”, he says, but warns any new system “will still need to be enforced, and that requires staff time”. The Scottish capital has “over 6,000 short-term holiday lets, while demand for social housing far outstrips supply”, he said, adding that a recent survey found just one Edinburgh short-term let property in "nearly 500" had planning permission for such use.

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