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Ministry of Housing letterheadThe Government's proposed legislation change will make it easier for developers to convert High Street shops and offices to housing.

The Government is currently conducting a Consultation, innocently titled, Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.  It proposes a change in legislation … to introduce a new national Permitted Development right for the change of use from the new Commercial, Business and Service use class to residential use.  If brought into law, this could threaten the viability of many High Streets.

In the past year the Government has made legislation changes, expanding the right of Permitted Development to promote residential development in areas of commerce.  However, so far this has not applied in Conservation Areas, like Thames Ditton.  In such areas, if a developer wants to change the use of a property, they must still gain planning permission from the local council. But if this new legislation is brought in, that requirement would no longer apply.

High Streets are the heart of communities, yet with the trend towards online shopping, and more recently the pandemic, they often struggle to maintain viability.  It is vital to retain a critical mass of shops, and our Residents' Association Councillors always fight hard to protect our commercial heart.  But this new legislation would give profit-seeking developers the right to eliminate shops and offices, even if detrimental to the community.  It would be a case of putting a fox in charge of the chickens!

It is important that people recognise the threat this new law would pose, and respond accordingly to the Consultation. However time is short as the closing date is Thursday 28 January.  You can respond via an online survey, but as this is quite long, you may prefer to do so via email or letter, ensuring that you indicate the Consultation question/s you are addressing.  Click here to go to the Consultation response web page.

The Residents' Association will shortly be submitting our response which will be shown in this news section.