The Mayor of London has welcomed the Government’s decision to reconsider planning proposals that would have potentially seen valuable office space in the capital turned into homes.
The Mayor has been actively lobbying the Government to amend proposals that would have put the capital’s key business districts at risk by allowing office space to be converted into homes without developers applying for planning permission for the change of use.
Thanks to the Mayor’s intervention the Minister for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis, today (13 October) announced that he will amend the original proposals to ensure London is able to maintain a stock of quality office space in existing key areas, and allow the city to continue to attract jobs and growth.
Last year the Mayor successfully negotiated for defined areas of central London to be exempt from a Government policy that allowed office space to be converted into homes without developers applying for change of use planning permission.
These areas covered the ‘Central Activities Zone’ which incorporates the City of London, the South Bank, parts of Kensington and Chelsea, the West End, the commercial area north of the Isle of Dogs and London’s Enterprise Zones in the Royal Docks, plus the part of the City Fringe in east London which makes up the emerging “Tech City” opportunity area.
However new proposals announced by the Government would have removed these exemptions, potentially threatening London’s internationally important business locations.
Today the Government announced that it will allow local authorities to bring forward special planning regulations known as Article 4 directions if they wish to continue determining planning applications for the change of use. This will ensure that London’s commercial heartlands will be protected from planning changes.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
“I am delighted that Government has put policies in place that will lead to the protection of our thriving business districts. Removing the planning exemption in those areas would have put the future economic growth of this city at risk, but by agreeing to amend their proposals the Government are ensuring we will be able to maintain the full stock of quality office space required for our city to continue to prosper.”
The Mayor is firmly on track to deliver 100,000 affordable homes over his two terms, with more than 94,000 already built. In the last year there were almost 18,000 affordable completions, the most in any year in London since 1991 and the equivalent of a new affordable home built every 30 minutes.
Since the Mayor took on 670 hectares of public land in 2012, 99 per cent has been released for development, in line with the Mayor’s 100 per cent target by the end of his term in 2016. Land already released by the Mayor includes east London’s Royal Docks, the Beam Park site in Rainham, and the former Cane Hill hospital site in Croydon.
The current exemptions will remain in place until May 2019, providing time for these local authorities to make an Article 4 application to remove the rights and require a planning application for any proposed change of use.