Civic movement speaks out to stop inappropriate changes to high street without planning permission

Embargo: Immediate release January 15th, 2020

Civic Voice – the national charity for the civic movement with 76,000 members – has submitted a consultation response urging the Government to think harder about the plans it has to allow developers to change buildings on our high streets without requiring full planning permission.

The proposals, introduced in the consultation ‘Planning Reform – Supporting housing delivery and public services infrastructure’ which would enable the change of use of a much wider range of uses commonly found on the high street, to residential use with the need for a full planning application.

Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice, said:

“Civic Voice knows as much as anyone about the challenges facing the high street, but we question claims that these proposals will breathe new life into our high streets and town/city centres. It may instead, simply enable change of use to more profitable uses, often residential, rather than enabling a greater range of uses to diversify and support our high streets and centres.

The danger with deregulation is that it can often lead to unscrupulous landowners and developers exploiting loopholes, as we have seen with previous widening of permitted development rights, which the Government’s own commissioned report concluded that permitted development rights create “worse quality residential environments”. A limited list of prior approval matters may not necessarily secure a high quality residential environment or vibrant, diverse, and planned centres. We are also extremely concerned that unlike some of the recent changes to permitted development rights, this consultation proposes that the new right would apply in conservation areas.

We cannot support this policy and will be coordinating a response for all Civic Societies to respond to this consultation.”


Civic Voice’s full briefing document can be accessed via:

Civic Voice webinars on the consultations are available to join via:

Further information

Ian Harvey .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 07877096968