Councillors have called for permitted development rules to be scrapped, claiming the current government policy is depriving residents across Three Rivers.
The new analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that almost 100 affordable homes may have been lost out on in the past four years, because of a government rule which allows offices to be converted into housing without planning permission.
Office conversions carried out under the permitted development right amount to almost half of all new housing in Three Rivers in 2019-2019, with 43% of all new homes in the area being created in this way.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Sara Bedford, said: “It has now been proved that this Government policy has deprived Three Rivers’ residents of hundreds of school places and 96 affordable homes. In a high-cost area such as Three Rivers, these homes are desperately needed to help younger residents stay in the area in which they have lived all their lives.”
The permitted development right allows the automatic approval of homes from office conversions, meaning communities have no way to ensure developers meet high-quality standards, provide any affordable homes within the development, or ensure supporting infrastructures such as roads, schools and health services are in place.
Cllr Bedford added: “It is vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process and are able to oversee all local developments. By scrapping permitted development rules, the Government can give councils and communities the ability to ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place.”
The LGA said councils want to work with the Government to tackle the housing shortage and ensure new housing meets the needs of communities. It is calling on permitted development rules to be scrapped and local communities to be allowed to have a vital say on new developments in their area.