Allowing cafes, restaurants, day centres and gyms to be turned into housing could mean four out of five high street shops could be replaced by housing according to a new study.
University College London researchers looked at how extended permitted development rights, PDR, which came into force on 1August, would affect Barnet, Crawley, Huntingdonshire, and Leicester.
“We recognise the need for more homes and the desire to regenerate high streets. But we need new homes to be high quality and for town centres to be able to provide a mixture of services and amenity space,” said Fiona Howie chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, which commissioned the report, Mapping Class E: Understanding the Extension of Permitted Development.
The researchers found that in Barnet 89% of shops and other commercial buildings could be lost to residential conversion. In Leicester and Crawley this stood at 77% and in Huntingdonshire 75%.
“In some neighbourhoods, entire high streets run the risk of being converted into housing. Clearly, anywhere near this reduction in commercial premises - whether shops, cafés, restaurants, gyms, nurseries, or day centres - would rip the heart out of our communities. And once shops have been converted into homes, they are extremely difficult to convert back,” said report authors Dr Ben Clifford, Dr Adam Dennett and Bin Chi.