Government admits ‘lessons to be learnt from Watford case’ as it’s pushed to speed up Permitted Development Rights review

LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader Howard Sykes writes: “You may be interested in seeing this example from Watford on why Permitted Development Rights need urgent review.”

The Government has been urged to speed up its review of Permitted Development rights after an urgent question was asked in the House of Lords by former Watford Mayor Liberal Democrat Baroness Dorothy Thornhill.

In response to the urgent question Minister Lord Young said that the policy had led to ‘some very poor quality homes to come onto the market’ and that the government would ‘learn from the Watford case’. They have committed to reviewing Permitted Development Rights by the end of the year with many campaigners wanting to see them act quicker.

The question came in light of a government inspector’s verdict to overturn Liberal Democrat run Watford Borough Council’s decision to refuse permission for a textiles unit to be converted into windowless flats. The flats would have been half the size of the government’s minimum for small dwellings and they also lacked safe fire escapes.

Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “We’ve made it very clear that it is not acceptable for people in Watford or elsewhere to live in tiny flats, without windows or even proper fire escapes. Applications like these should never have been approved by government inspectors.

“I’m glad the government agree that this a problem but they must urgently review Permitted Development rights to make sure this can never happen again. Everyone deserves the dignity of living in a good quality home fit for the 21st century.”

Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords Baroness Dorothy Thornhill said: “Permitted Development rules make it far too easy for substandard accommodation to be approved without councils subjecting them to the proper checks. All homes should be fit for human habitation. Although I welcome the government’s intention to review Permitted Development rules they should do this urgently. Everyone needs a home but they must have one that meets basic safety standards. I’ll continue to press the government to change the law as quickly as possible.”​


Watch the full question and the response from the minster.

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