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'Flawed' policy sees business space lost to housing

London skyline

London has lost more than 1 million square metres of business space under planning rules making it easier to convert offices into homes, according to research by the Labour Party

Figures compiled by Labour’s London Assembly planning spokesperson Nicky Gavron said that space – equivalent to 150 large football pitches – already has permission for conversion.

The government announced last week that it would make the process allowing such changes permanent from 6 April, after a three year temporary implementation.

Gavron said: ‘Seeing businesses turfed out of offices and other employment spaces across the capital will do nothing to help London’s economy. Nor will allowing developers to ride roughshod over planning standards solve London’s housing crisis.’

She said the policy was likely to result in ‘tiny, sub-standard’ housing and threatened residents with having to move or lose their jobs.

Gavron said: ‘Vast swathes of London office space are likely to be wiped out under this flawed policy. It is baffling that the mayor isn’t fighting these changes.’

Analysis of data from the London Development Database showed that, between May 2013 and March 2015, there were 2,806 proposals to convert office space into residential property under the permitted development rights.

With over 2,000 applications already approved, approximately 1,094,550m² of floor space will be lost in the capital.

The government has also announced that exemptions currently enjoyed from the policy by inner London boroughs will be removed from 2019.


Readers' comments (2)

  • It's not rocket science. If you don't build enough sq.ft. you will have pressure points and imbalances. We have a deadly combination of an absurdly expensive, slow and capricious planning process, an outdated rigid Use Classes system and rife nimbyism. We are simply not building enough multipurpose long life sq.ft. for the world's most popular destination.

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  • Is it really baffling that the mayor isn't fighting these changes? The poor man's juggling his two day jobs with fighting to gather as much power as possible for our national politicians, earning a crust writing for the printed media - and (of course) looking after the interests of his developer friends in their struggles to get their own way against all sorts of spoilsports and idiots. So he's hardly likely to have the time or inclination to make life difficult for yet more developers - he's got far bigger fish to fry.

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