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London fights office-to-resi

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New rules boosting office-to-residential conversions could stifle mixed-use development in the capital, planning experts have warned

CBRE head of London planning Keith Hearn told the London Assembly the new rules right could drive business out of London. He said: ‘The plans will threaten a number of areas. This can be seen by the number applying for exemptions’.

He added: ‘Most commercial space is within the central zone. If government accepts the exemption then there will be little left.’

Sue Terpilowski of the Federation of Small Businesses said: ‘How can people set up small businesses to help get us out of recession when there is nowhere for them to work? We will drive people out of London. Business rates will go up, making it uneconomic for businesses to survive in the capital.’

Describing the move as ‘one of the worst designed policy proposals ever seen’, Michael Bach, planning and transport committee chairman for the London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies said: ‘The policy could strip out town centre uses and threaten the survival of borough’s town centres.’

The imminent new permitted development right will allow conversions from class B1(a) to C3 to proceed without planning permission.

The Greater London Authority and all of London’s 36 boroughs – barring three – have lobbied government for exemption from the policy. Barking and Dagenham, Bexley and Redbridge are the only London boroughs not to have applied for an exemption from the policy. Manchester City Council is also opposing its introduction.


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