Following a freedom of information (FOI) request by the Planning Jungle website, DCLG has provided the following further information about the responses to the 2014 "Technical consultation on planning":
- July 2016: Consultation questions and final results - Reducing planning regulations to support housing, high streets and growth (pdf).
For those parts of the 2014 consultation that related to the GPDO and the Use Classes Order, the above "final results" document shows the percentage (and number) of responses that supported versus opposed each of the proposals, including the new (or amended) PD rights. For example:
- For "Question 2.7", which asked "Do you agree that the permitted development rights allowing larger extensions for dwelling houses should be made permanent?" (i.e. Part 1 Class A, as subsequently amended on 15/04/2015), there were 484 responses, of which 33% (159) indicated "Yes" versus 67% (325) indicated "No".
- For "Question 2.5", which asked "Do you agree that there should be a permitted development right from May 2016 to allow change of use from offices (B1(a)) to residential (C3)?" (i.e. Part 3 Class O, as subsequently amended on 06/04/2016), there were 598 responses, of which 30% (182) indicated "Yes" versus 70% (416) indicated "No".
- Note: For a breakdown of the responses to each of the other questions (i.e. from "Question 2.1" to "Question 2.25"), please view the above "final results" document.
The 2014 "Technical consultation on planning" ran from 31/07/2014 until 26/09/2014, and covered a wide range of planning proposals (for further info, please view this post). Between November 2014 and March 2015, DCLG published a series of "response" documents, which covered the various parts of this consultation except for those parts relating to the GPDO and the Use Classes Order. For these latter parts, the "response" document was published in May 2016, which was more than 1 1/2 years after the end of the consultation, and which was after most of the proposals had already been implemented on 15/04/2015 and on 06/04/2016 (for further info, please view this post).
Although the above May 2016 "response" document states that there were "943 responses" to this part of the consultation, it provides no breakdown of the percentage (or number) of responses that supported versus opposed any of the proposals, including any of the new (or amended) PD rights. For example, question 2.1 asked respondents whether they agree that there should be new PD rights to allow a change of use from B1(c) or B8 to C3. However, when summarising the responses to this question, the May 2016 "response" document simply states that there was "some support" for these new PD rights. For reference, the phrase "some support" is used for questions 2.1 / 2.3 / 2.5 / 2.7 / 2.11 / 2.12 / 2.19 / 2.20, the phrase "support" is used for question 2.14, the phrase "strong support" is used for question 2.18, and the phrase "considerable support" is used for questions 2.13 / 2.17 / 2.21.
In my opinion, it's not necessarily the case that the government's decision for each of the proposals should follow the views of the majority of responses. However, in my opinion, from a transparency point of view, it's important that the government at least acknowledges what percentage (or number) of responses supported versus opposed each of the proposals, rather than using vague phrases such as "some support". As such, on 18/05/2016 the Planning Jungle website emailed DCLG to ask that they provide a breakdown of the responses. The sequence of events was then as follows:
- 20/05/2016: DCLG states that they're treating the email as a FOI request, and states that they aim to send a response by 16/06/2016 (i.e. 4 weeks).
- 16/06/2016: DCLG states that the time limit for responding needs to be extended to 14/07/2016 (i.e. a further 4 weeks).
- 05/07/2016: DCLG sends a response stating that "the information requested is held by the Department but we are unable to send it to you", and stating that "the public interest served by maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest served by disclosing the information at this time".
- 05/07/2016: The Planning Jungle website asks DCLG to review their response (i.e. via an "internal review"), and states that if the outcome of the review is the same then the Planning Jungle website will contact the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
- 07/07/2016: DCLG states that they aim to send a response by 02/08/2016 (i.e. 4 weeks).
- 28/07/2016: DCLG sends a response stating that "the Department’s response of 5 July was too cautious" and stating that "the public interest is best served at this time by disclosing the information requested". The above "final results" document was attached to this response.