Call for planning policy to reflect home working

planning application

A major house builder has called for planning policy to be amended, to reflect the increasing demand in working from home. Barratt Developments commissioned the research from Lichfields, who undertook a survey of people who had experienced home working during the pandemic.

The responses showed how people had adapted to use their homes, and how the experience might impact their future choice of home. The aim of the research is to look at how planning policy might be guided in the future, to reflect home working.

Prior to the pandemic, the phenomenon of working from home was already in use as a way of creating a more flexible working pattern for some workers. However, the series of lockdowns and transport issues created by the pandemic has accelerated the trend and it has been adopted by businesses which had not previously considered home working as an option for their employees.

As many as 7.5 million people in the UK would like to work permanently from home, twice the number before the lockdowns, according to Barratt.

For those forced to work from home because of the pandemic, the experience has meant reconsidering how they and their families use the home. For many, it has meant reorganising of the home and family to accommodate the creation of work space. Workspaces have ranged from kitchen tables, spare bedrooms and attics and even the car parked in the driveway.

Only half of the survey’s respondents said that their home was suitable for home working, and only 28% had a dedicated space that could be used as a study or office space.

Almost 70% said they would value an additional room in the home that could be used as a dedicated office.

The house builder’s land and planning director, Philip Barnes, said: “National planning policy already asks local authorities to accommodate needs not anticipated when policies are drafted, to allow for new and flexible working practices. We need to see this in practice, to take into account the shift towards millions of us now working from home. Without such moves, the mismatch between the supply and demand of homes will become ever more acute. We could see family homes with a dedicated home working space even less affordable for those who most need them.”