Why East Devon’s town centres are deemed not to suffer from significant harm from the latest in a long line of stupidity I don’t know.  Another sigh.  I seem to do a lot of sighing over this government and its appalling policies.

The article below is published by Planning Resource – here also – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1184325/use-class-shake-up-comes-force/ ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Sweeping changes to permitted development rights – including controversial measures to allow offices to be converted into homes without planning permission – take effect from today.

The changes to the General Permitted Development Order, which include new rules to allow office buildings to be converted to residential use without planning permission and increased limits for householder extensions, are now in force.

The measures also include new rules to enable the conversion of existing buildings such as offices, hotels, care homes, cinemas and concert halls to state-funded schools without the need for planning consent.

Announcing the changes earlier this month, communities secretary Eric Pickles said that the new rules would help “put to good use” the “many disused existing buildings we have”.

Pickles said: “By simplifying the process and relaxing some stringent rules, we can provide a helping hand to those eager to boost their high streets or rural communities by cutting the time and costs needed to start up new businesses.”

But umbrella body the Local Government Association (LGA) warned today that the new permitted development rights would significantly reduce people’s ability to have a say on important changes in their area and risk “draining the life from high streets”.

In a statement, the LGA said that the measures would mean that “premises previously used as independent gift shops could be turned into payday loan companies while greengrocers could become betting shops, without the need for planning permission or public consultation”.

Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said: “We have been clear that if we’re to get people back out shopping in their local town centres, we need to give them more say on what type of businesses and shops open there. Instead, from today they will have less.

“There’s a very real danger that, in chasing a short-term boost, this panic measure could end up creating real problems in our high streets and doing lasting damage to our town and cities. This could potentially drain the life from our high streets.”

Justin Kenworthy, a director in consultancy Barton Willmore’s London office, said that he expected the new rules to allow offices to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission to have a major impact in areas such as outer London boroughs and big cities such as Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle.

He said: “This presents a big opportunity to deliver new homes and regenerate areas that have been blighted by long-vacant office buildings that are either in the wrong place or face prohibitive costs to bring them up to lettable standards.”

Kenworthy added that the fact that developers would not have to meet financial obligations such as section 106 agreements “could make the difference between a scheme becoming viable and standing empty”.