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Government right to be cautious on change of use

12 July 2012

The Royal Town Planning Institute, which represents 23,000 of Britain's planning professionals, has welcomed the Government's cautious approach to relaxing change of use regulations from business to residential as outlined in the Summary of consultation responses and the Government's response to the consultation published on July 3.

Colin HaylockThe RTPI strongly opposed the proposal to liberalise the regulations to allow change of use from business to residential on the basis that the proposals would damage economic recovery, that they were unworkable in practice, and that they were at odds with localism and neighbourhood planning.

RTPI President Colin Haylock (pictured right) congratulated the Government for their pragmatic approach to the issue: \"Affordable business accommodation is a vital element in economic economy and allowing unregulated change of use would have risked strangling economic recovery. The Government is right to be cautious and avoid changing a system that works and which already empowers local communities. Amending the National Planning Policy Framework and permitted development rights are sensible measures in the current economic climate. Increasing the housing supply is understandably a priority, but this should not be at the expense of a reasonable supply of affordable business accommodation. The current arrangements are localist.\"

In response to the consultation, the Government has decided to amend the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and extend existing permitted development rights to allow space above shops and other town centre uses to be converted into a single flat to allow two flats.

The Institute's covering letter responding to the consultation is here and its response to the questionnaire is here.