Poor quality office conversions allowed to take place without planning permission have cost local communities over £1m in funding and are creating slums of the future according to the Leader of Milton Keynes Council.
Labour Council Leader Cllr Pete Marland has written to the Secretary of State to highlight how allowing office blocks, such as at Station House, to be converted into housing without proper planning permission has allowed developers to avoid paying out over £1m in Section 106 funding.
Section 106 funding is a contribution made by developers when they build new housing to pay for the impact of the new homes on the community by paying for new school places, new roads and reduce the pressure on health services.
However, the Conservative government have relaxed planning rules that allow developers to convert office space without the need for full planning permission. The rules allow for extra floors to be added to be buildings and issues such as space standards and parking can’t be considered.
Permitted development also does not require developers to provide any affordable or social housing in their developments, so MK has missed out on hundreds of affordable homes.
Cllr Pete Marland said: “The Conservative government’s relaxation of the planning rules takes away a local say for people over whether development is suitable for their area or not. It is a system that hands power to developers to convert office spaces into poor quality apartments with few standards, some of which are little more than future slums. It simply isn’t right.”
He continued: “I have no problem with the principle of converting offices if it is done in the right way and where local people get a say. Relaxing permitted development rights has meant Milton Keynes residents have missed out on over £1m in funding that would have funded new school places, new infrastructure and eased the pressure on our health service. Not only that, but the government is currently thinking about making it harder for local authorities to remove permitted development rights. We oppose that. ”
He concluded:“We all know that more affordable housing is needed, but bad quality office conversions with no local say over things like parking standards is not the way. It is handing power to developers, and if these polices are not reserved it will see thousands of badly planned, sub-standard homes created without proper infrastructure being provided for them and it’s something we oppose.”