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Planning changes 'will create slums of the future' Planning changes 'will create slums of the future'
(about 1 hour later)
Labour has accused the government of creating "slums of the future" and urged Conservative MPs to vote down planning law changes.Labour has accused the government of creating "slums of the future" and urged Conservative MPs to vote down planning law changes.
It said new rules for England, allowing developers to convert shops into homes without planning permission, would mean more "poor-quality housing".It said new rules for England, allowing developers to convert shops into homes without planning permission, would mean more "poor-quality housing".
They are the first stage of changes to the planning system, which are provoking disquiet among some Tory MPs.They are the first stage of changes to the planning system, which are provoking disquiet among some Tory MPs.
The government promised to build the "homes communities need".The government promised to build the "homes communities need".
Labour has secured a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday as it attempts to overturn the first stage of the reforms, announced before the summer recess. Labour secured a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday in an attempt to overturn the reforms, announced before the summer recess.
Under the changes, empty high street shops could be converted into housing and up to two storeys could be added to blocks of flats without the need for planning permission. Under the changes, empty high street shops could be converted into housing and up to two storeys could be added to blocks of flats, without the need for planning permission.
Shadow housing minister Mike Amesbury told the House of Commons that thousands of people were being "crammed into former industrial and office premises that were not built for human habitation".Shadow housing minister Mike Amesbury told the House of Commons that thousands of people were being "crammed into former industrial and office premises that were not built for human habitation".
Some had "no or few windows" and some were "as small as 10 square metres", he added, smaller than the "average car parking space".Some had "no or few windows" and some were "as small as 10 square metres", he added, smaller than the "average car parking space".
Mr Amesbury said the government wanted to "create poor-quality housing by bypassing the local community, democracy and control by adding new units on top of flats, by allowing developers to demolish and rebuild empty buildings, and by allowing people to add multiple flaws to their homes".Mr Amesbury said the government wanted to "create poor-quality housing by bypassing the local community, democracy and control by adding new units on top of flats, by allowing developers to demolish and rebuild empty buildings, and by allowing people to add multiple flaws to their homes".
These would become "the slums of the future", he added.These would become "the slums of the future", he added.
'Crackers''Crackers'
There is widespread concern among Conservative MPs about the wider reforms.There is widespread concern among Conservative MPs about the wider reforms.
One of them, Sir Peter Bottomley, said leaseholders would suffer when extra floors were added to buildings.One of them, Sir Peter Bottomley, said leaseholders would suffer when extra floors were added to buildings.
Freeholders, by contrast, had been "given a gift... of billions of pounds", he added.Freeholders, by contrast, had been "given a gift... of billions of pounds", he added.
"If I were on the frontbench my face would be red and I'd be standing up at the end of this debate to say, 'I apologise. I got it wrong,'" Sir Peter said."If I were on the frontbench my face would be red and I'd be standing up at the end of this debate to say, 'I apologise. I got it wrong,'" Sir Peter said.
Ahead of the debate, the government announced a concession that all homes created under the scheme would in future must have at least 37 square metres of floor space - a stipulation already in place for homes requiring planning permission. Earlier, the government announced a concession that all homes created under the scheme would in future must have at least 37 square metres of floor space - a stipulation already in place for homes requiring planning permission.
A government spokesperson said a "minority of developers" had been "delivering small homes without justification", adding: "The changes announced today will put an end to this." But Conservative MP Sir Bob Neill told the Commons this had "not gone far enough" in alleviating "the pressures that suburbs face".
At Prime Minister's Questions, Conservative MP Harriet Baldwin said the formula suggested by the government to allocate homes to different areas had "overshot in terms of numbers", while investment would go into "concreting down rather than levelling up". He said his "concerns" meant he could not vote with the government, although he would not be voting against it.
She urged Boris Johnson to "change some of the elements of this". At Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson said: "We are going to ensure we have a planning system that is fit for purpose, that allows us to give young people for the first time in a generation the chance of home ownership, which currently millions and millions of people are shut out from."
The prime minister replied: "We are going to ensure we have a planning system that is fit for purpose, that allows us to give young people for the first time in a generation the chance of home ownership, which currently millions and millions of people are shut out from."
He added that it was possible to do so without "desecrating our beautiful countryside".He added that it was possible to do so without "desecrating our beautiful countryside".
Under the government's wider proposals, which have gone out to consultation, land will be divided into three categories - "growth", "renewal" or "protected".
If land is designated for "renewal" councils would have to look favourably on new developments. In "growth" areas, new homes, hospitals and schools will be allowed automatically.
Areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt will come under the "protected" category and "beautiful buildings" will be fast-tracked through the system.
'Misguided'
The government has devised an updated algorithm to calculate local housing need.The government has devised an updated algorithm to calculate local housing need.
According to House of Commons library research, seen by the BBC, it could mean major increases in the number of new homes for some areas.According to House of Commons library research, seen by the BBC, it could mean major increases in the number of new homes for some areas.
For example, in each of the county council areas of Norfolk, Leicestershire, Kent and Worcestershire it translates to around an extra 2,000 homes a year over 15 years.For example, in each of the county council areas of Norfolk, Leicestershire, Kent and Worcestershire it translates to around an extra 2,000 homes a year over 15 years.
A Housing, Communities and Local Government Department spokesperson described Labour's claims as "misguided".A Housing, Communities and Local Government Department spokesperson described Labour's claims as "misguided".
"Community involvement and control is at the centre of our proposals so local people will be consulted from the very beginning when local plans are developed - making the system more democratic," they added."Community involvement and control is at the centre of our proposals so local people will be consulted from the very beginning when local plans are developed - making the system more democratic," they added.