Labour pledge to scrap planning 'get-out clause' which lets developers build 'slum housing'

Posted On: 
24th April 2019

Labour have vowed to scrap a "get-out clause" which allows property developers to build "slum housing".

Labour have pledged to alter the planning rules to close the "get-out clause" for developers
Credit: 
PA

The party accused developers of using a change to planning rules to side-step their duty to provide affordable homes when converting non-residential spaces - and vowed to end the practice if elected.

Ministers relaxed permitted development rules in 2013 in a bid to speed-up house building.

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The changes allow property developers to convert commercial buildings such as office blocks into new residential spaces without planning consent from local authorities.

But Labour say the change, which also allows builders the right to dump basic quality rules, including for floor space, had resulted in the creation of "rabbit hutch" flats.

Last month, plans to develop a former warehouse in Balham into 26 flats came under fire after it emerged that some of the properties would lack windows, while others would measure only 18 sq metres, despite national housing standards setting a minimum of 37 sq metres.

According to research from the Local Government Association, over 10,000 affordable homes have been lost because of the rule change over the previous three years.

Announcing the pledge, Labour's Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said developers had been given a "free hand" to ignore the needs of local communities.

"Conservative permitted development rules have created a get-out clause for developers to dodge affordable homes requirements and build slum housing," he said.

"To fix the housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable, high-quality homes. This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need.

"Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs."

Earlier this month, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said the policy was under review after Tory MP Robert Halfon warned that the plans had allowed landlords to build "ghettos".