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Friday, October 06, 2006
Tories to scrap use classes?
Surely some mistake. Getting rid of use classes would basically mean no planning at all. The Tories have been talking about slimming down planning but this is the most radical yet.

Michael Gove, the Tories’ housing spokesperson, told a fringe event organised by CABE that the system of “use class orders” should be scrapped to give commercial and residential projects the same planning status. Gove’s proposals would mean that developers would no longer have to submit a planning application if they wanted to change the use of a building from commercial to residential.

Gove said scrapping the distinction between the two uses was a logical response to the lack of demand for commercial space. He said: “I am very attracted to the idea of abolishing use class orders and the distinction between commercial and residential. At the moment, we have hundreds of thousands of square metres of office space that is empty."

He said circumstances had changed since the late eighties, when the Tories introduced use class orders because commercial development was generally less polluting. Scrapping use class orders would also make it easier for developers to respond to market conditions. However, it is likely to anger homeowners because it will make it easier to build commercial schemes in residential areas.


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