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New inquiry: Permitted development rights

23 March 2021

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry to examine the Government’s approach to permitted development rights.

Permitted developments rights (PDR) allow for certain changes to be made to a building without the need to apply for planning permission. In recent years, the Government has expanded the use of PDRs with the aim of boosting growth and renewal by giving building owners more flexibility in how premises are used. In 2020, the Government legislated to permit conversion between a much wider range of commercial and retail premises. It also created new PDRs to allow unused office buildings to be more easily converted into residential property and giving homeowners the right to add additional stories to existing post-war homes.

The inquiry will examine the impact that an expansion of the PDR system has had, and will continue to have, on the planning system and the Governments targets for new homes and economic growth. It will also examine the impact at a local level, including the ability of local authorities to plan development holistically, developer contributions and the provision of services to meet changing local needs. The inquiry will also consider the further changes to permitted development outlined in the planning White Paper

Chair's comment

Launching the inquiry, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP said:

“Local communities face an unprecedented challenge. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has placed severe pressures on urban environments that were already struggling. As we look to return to normal life we still don’t know what the long-term outlook will be, both in terms of the viability of existing commercial and office space or the need for domestic housing.

“Given these uncertainties it is crucial that the right framework is in place to support local communities to adapt to meet the new reality, whatever it may be. The Government has indicated its intention to use permitted development rights to allow greater flexibility in how buildings are used, removing the need for planning approval for switching use between offices, shops and housing under certain circumstances.

“We have launched this inquiry to understand the implications of this approach. Does it provide sufficient scope for local authorities to set out a coherent plan that addresses local needs? How well does it support the Government’s broader goals for economic development and housing capacity? Fundamentally, do they enable the economic and societal recovery we need.”

Terms of reference

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee invites submissions on the following issues.

With specific reference to permitted development in respect of large-scale development, commercial-to-residential conversions and changes of use between different types of commercial and retail premises:

  • What role should PDR play in the planning system?
  • What is the impact of PDR on the quality and quantity of new housing, including affordable and social housing?
  • What is the impact of PDR on local planning authorities, developer contributions and the provision of infrastructure and services?
  • Is the government’s approach to PDR consistent with its vision in the Planning White Paper?
  • What is the impact of PDR on the ability of local authorities to plan development and shape their local communities?
  • Is the government right to argue that PDR supports business and economic growth?
  • What is the impact of PDR on the involvement of local communities in the planning process?
  • Should the government reform PDR? If so, how?

In addition, written submissions may touch on any other matter relevant to the government’s approach towards these kinds of permitted development.

Submit evidence

The Committee welcomes evidence on the questions set out in the terms of reference above. You can find out more about how to give evidence by visiting the inquiry page here. If you have direct experience of the issues we investigate we would love to hear from you.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 30 April 2021.


We want our inquiries to be informed by a diverse range of voices. Our committee team are happy to help if you require a reasonable adjustment, such as an extension to the deadline, or submitting evidence in an alternative format: please get in touch at or 020 7219 5364.

Further information

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