Housing minister moves to cut London red tape

Ryan Fowler

September 22, 2014

Since May 2013, those looking to convert offices into new homes have been able to do so under a permitted development right – that is, without applying for planning permission, other than a light-touch “prior approval” mechanism for transport, contamination and flooding issues.

Such rights have been enthusiastically adopted by the housing industry, with a particular move towards providing new studio and 1 bedroom flats. This has included the conversion and refurbishment of the Archway Tower in Islington.

However, Islington council issued an Article 4 Direction, seeking to remove these rights across the borough. This was despite a special exemption exercise previously taking place, which exempted the much of the strategic office space in the borough.

After discussions with the council, the steps taken today by ministers will limit where office to residential conversions cannot take place under permitted development rights to very small, targeted parts of Islington – rather than a blanket ban applying across the whole area.

Anyone looking to convert offices to homes outside those specific areas will continue benefit from the government’s permitted development rights, where they no longer have to apply for planning permission other than the prior approval process.

Lewis said: “House building levels have reached their highest levels since 2007, but there is an acute need for more homes, especially in London.

“With more mobile modern day working practices, and housing being in such demand, it makes sense to allow the free market to create new homes on brownfield land. In turn, such regeneration helps protect the countryside.

“The steps I’m taking today ensure that Londoners can benefit from the steps we’ve taken to cut red tape and make it easier to deliver these new homes in Islington.”

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