CHANGES to the Government’s controversial “permitted development” planning rules have been hailed as “a step in the right direction” by a senior Bradford Councillor.

Under permitted development rules, property developers are able to convert former office buildings into flats without the need for planning permission.

Local Councils are only able to object the the development if there are serious environmental or traffic concerns.

Earlier this year the government expanded permitted development rules to allow empty shops to be converted without the need for planning permission.

The system has proved controversial, with critics pointing out that it can lead to property developers creating tiny, poor quality flats without the scrutiny of local authorities.

Earlier this year an officer from Bradford Council’s housing standards team told Councillors such conversions were “the bane of our life.”

The District, particularly Bradford city centre, has seen numerous office buildings converted into flats through permitted developments.

Poor quality flats in office buildings are 'bane of our life' - according to housing standards team

Earlier this year Chair of Bradford Civic Society Si Cunningham said: “”I’m all for more city centre living – Bradford could be a great location for it – but the proliferation of these cramped, poor quality conversions is really undermining wider regeneration efforts.”

But the government has now announced that flats created under permitted development will have to meet minimum space standards.

This means that a one bed or studio flat would have to have a minimum of 37 square metres of living space.

Any development that includes flats smaller than this will not be eligible for permitted development approval - and would have to go through the normal planning process.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport at Bradford Council, has welcomed the change, but does not feel the government is going far enough in ensuring the policy delivers quality living standards.

Bradford Council has a Homes and Neighbourhood Design guide that sets out housing standards - including mice standards for flats and apartments.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says the changes are an attempt to stop “the minority of developers who have been delivering small homes without justification.”

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of having somewhere secure and comfortable to live. While most developers deliver good homes and do the right thing, I’m tackling the minority of developers abusing the system by announcing that new homes delivered will have to meet space standards.”

Cllr Ross Shaw said: “Despite my concerns on some of the recent changes to Permitted Development rights, this looks like a long-called for step in the right direction from the government.

“It will also bring those living space standards in line with our own Homes and Neighbourhoods Design Guide.

“However, given what we’ve experienced during the pandemic on the importance of outdoor spaces and amenity it’s disappointing and surprising they have not addressed these issues.”