CIBSE calls for review of PDR planning policy

Permitted development rights must not sweep away carbon targets

Derelict buildings could soon make way for housing under PDRs Credit iStock – Philip Openshaw

CIBSE has called for a review of permitted development rights (PDRs). It says the policy allowing the conversion of buildings without planning permission risks creating schemes that will require further adaptation to meet net zero standards.

CIBSE said that PDRs meant local authorities were missing out on the chance to set carbon reduction targets and receive contributions towards community projects.

‘We support the adaptation and conversion of buildings if it minimises embodied carbon and other resources.

However, this must be given proper consideration, as with any design and construction project,’ said CIBSE in its position statement Towards a Better Planning Framework to Address Climate Change. The statement was published after the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick announced government plans to allow empty buildings to be demolished and replaced by new housing.

CIBSE said it was concerned that the proposed plans would have consequences for the safety, health and wellbeing of occupants. It said: ‘Adapting and retrofitting existing buildings should be a priority; demolition should be minimised’

In the statement, CIBSE said local authorities should be able to set carbon performance targets beyond national standards; it objects to the government’s plan to restrict locally set targets.

The statement calls on the government to announce the steps to net-zero-carbon operational buildings, and says local authorities should be able to ask for evidence of operational performance. It calls for the creation of incentives for applicants to adopt net-zero-carbon standards.

The government should also develop planning guidelines for retrofitting properties in collaboration with heritage bodies,

CIBSE said, and that there needed to be an investment in the skills of conservation officers and energy/sustainability officers.