The corporation has prepared a robust and largely negative response to latest government suggestions that the planning system be loosened to promote development.
In early July DCLG published consultation papers suggesting potential changes of use without the need for planning permission. These included hotels and guest houses to be converted to residential, to let vacant buildings be used for an alternative commercial use for up to two years, and for easier reuse of redundant agricultural buildings.
Proposals have also been made to streamline information requirements for outline applications, and to clarify requirements from statutory consultees, and the award of costs.
“You’ll be surprised to see this in another form,” commented chairman Martin Farr, referring to a previous proposal to allow conversions to residential without permission. “Unfortunately that hasn’t ended. They have come back with revised proposals. It is yet another threat, so it is of great concern.”
On hotels to residential, the City’s response is: “The introduction of housing to areas dominated by commercial activity could raise expectations of residential amenity that are unrealistic.
“Loss of established hotel stock to more profitable residential uses would dilute the concentration of commercial activities that gives the City and its fringes a critical mass.”
Temporary change of use “could have wide ranging and unintended consequences as it removes the existing powers of authorities to balance the mix and spatial pattern of uses in the public interest.”