Letter: Relaxation of planning rules

Shops and pubs reopen in Romford Town Centre as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture by Ellie Hosk

Permitted Development Rights mean shops could become homes - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

Planning free-for-all is a risk to future of our high streets

Keith Webb, Little Gaynes Lane, Upminster, writes:

Cllr Ron Ower has drawn attention to the relaxation of planning rules in order to convert disused commercial buildings into new homes, no doubt due to the government’s complete lack of immigration control despite Brexit. 

It is bad enough that a planning free-for-all is now allowed in residential streets without the prospect of our shops, etc being converted into residential dwellings after being empty for only three months which is more than likely in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Our high streets will cease to exist as shopping centres just become part of the residential urban sprawl. We have already experienced perfectly good houses being demolished to make room for blocks of flats as well as green spaces such as the Hall Lane pitch & putt and a small part of Upminster Park. 

Is the council completely powerless to protect our shopping centres and environment before it is too late, if not why do we elect councillors? Shops should be allowed time to recover from the current woes or new shops to take over rather than risk losing our high streets. Once gone they’re gone!