City slams office-to-residential conversions consultation
The City of London has hit out at a government proposal to make office-to-residential conversions permitted development
Writing in the City AM, City of London Corporation policy chairman Stuart Fraser said the potential change in law could dilute the high concentration of offices which makes the Square Mile a ‘world-class’ place to do business.
He explained: ‘The quality and quantity of office space available in the Square Mile is carefully planned many years in advance, taking into account not only prevailing market conditions but also the long-term business needs of current and future occupiers.
‘If developers were to turn offices into residential blocks when times were tough, the City’s ability to attract new firms when the market picked up would be reduced.
‘Clearly such changes could pose a significant threat to the City of London’s international competitiveness.’
From the City’s perspectice, it is thought that the loss of offices to residential use could reduce the supply of future development sites needed for planned growth, with a knock-on impact on London’s competitiveness.
Furthermore the introduction of housing in mainly commercial areas would raise expectations of residential amenity, it is claimed.
Housing built in the city would most likely be luxury and fail to meet ‘general’ housing needs as intended by the proposal.
Buildings most likely to be converted into homes would be older buildings which currently provide lower-cost space for small and medium enterprises in the area, it is reckoned.