Petition over loophole which could aid ‘rabbit-hutch’ living

SUS-160920-131131001
SUS-160920-131131001

A planning loophole which prevents councils rejecting plans for small homes akin to ‘rabbit hutches’ is the subject of a Littlehampton councillor’s petition to the Government.

Town councillor Derrick Chester said rules which govern certain types of developments prevented councillors considering the size of dwellings – despite national space standards usually being a factor.

The Liberal Democrat lodged a petition which sought to address the matter.

The action came after the town council considered its response to plans to convert an office block into 30 flats and bedsits, he said.

Under planning rules, the offices, in Hawthorn Road, could be converted under permitted development rights, meaning full planning permission was not required.

Mr Chester said councillors were instead only able to consider a limited range of issues – and not the size of the proposed homes, Mr Chester said some of the dwellings were as small as 15 square metres, while the nationally prescribed space standards require 37 square metres for a one-bed home.

The Cornfield councillor said his petition sought to apply the national rules to permitted development plans.

He said: “We do not want to see rabbit-hutch-style living. The nationally prescribed space standards exist for a reason and I am concerned about the health effects both physically and mentally of allowing dwellings of such a small size to become the norm.”

Such cases are rare in Littlehampton, Mr Chester said, but the issue was common in places like London.

After a town council planning and transportation committee meeting, where the Hawthorn Road flats were discussed, the councillor set up the petition and asked fellow members to support it.

The petition went live earlier this month, after the wording was finalised with the parliamentary petitions department. If it receives 100,000 signatures, the matter would be considered for debate in Parliament.

The Government would respond to the petition if it was backed by 10,000 people.

“I am delighted that colleagues of all parties agreed to support the petition and I would urge residents to sign it as well,” Mr Chester said. To view the petition, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/232746