Permitted development plans 'disastrous', says Hampstead forum

The junction of Heath Street and Hampstead High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Plans are being put forward to make it easier to turn shops into homes - Credit: Polly Hancock

The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum (HNF) has labelled the government’s proposals to extend permitted development rights as “disastrous”.  

HNF said local businesses in NW3 would be lost and a “bedroom community” created under plans to make it easier for commercial properties to be turned into homes. 

The move would represent a widening of permitted development rights, which allow certain works to be approved without a planning application.  

The government said the proposals would help "diversify" high streets and give “more flexibility for much-needed housing”.  

But HNF submitted its “strong objection” to the plans last month as part of a public consultation which is now closed. 

The group’s chair, Stephen Taylor, said: “The proposed changes could hollow out historic village centres such as Hampstead, further depressing our beleaguered high streets, increasing the loss of office space to residential and creating a bedroom community where everyone becomes more car reliant.” 

Stephen said the plans would undermine the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan, which includes policies to protect local traders, and "disastrously alter the balance" between residential and commercial buildings. 

Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum's Stephen Taylor says we need to "think seriously and creatively" about Hampstead's future.

Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum chair Stephen Taylor - Credit: Archant

Most Read

“The proposal fails to assure that houses are built in areas supported by existing or planned infrastructure,” he said.  

“It hobbles local authorities and local neighbourhoods in their ability to plan strategically for the future and dismantles the aims of the Localism Act of 2011.  

“It could result in permanent damage to our high streets, local employment, our conservation areas and in the quality of our housing stock.” 

HNF’s chair said the extension of permitted development would stifle local participation and weaken protection for Hampstead’s conservation area.  

“The notion that the fall in planning applications might benefit planning authorities is misguided,” he said.  

“Either planning approval is appropriate or it is inappropriate. Timesaving is an irrelevant consideration.” 

Camden Council’s planning chief Cllr Danny Beales criticised the plans, saying: “Not only would these proposals have a devastating impact on our already suffering high streets, but they won’t deliver the much-needed quality, affordable homes the borough needs either."  

Camden Council business chief Cllr Danny Beales

Camden Council business chief Cllr Danny Beales - Credit: Camden Council

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The High Street Homes permitted development right will support the diversification of our high streets and town centres by allowing more flexibility for much-needed housing, while making the most of existing buildings. 

“The consultation has now closed. We are considering the responses and further announcements will be made in due course.”