City seeks planning change exemption
The planning officer for the City of London will claim today that businesses could be harmed if office space is turned into homes.
Speaking at an event organised by the British Property Federation, Peter Rees, city planning officer for the Corporation of London, is expected to argue that the square mile and other leading business districts should be protected.
Mr Rees will say: ‘While the government’s ambition of supporting economic growth and increasing housing stocks is laudable, the consultation on relaxing planning laws for the conversion of office space to residential properties could have a detrimental impact not only on the City of London but on business districts throughout the UK.
‘The cyclical nature of the property industry means that if developers were to turn offices into residential blocks when times were tough, the City’s ability to attract and house new firms when market conditions improved would be seriously diminished.’
Chancellor George Osborne announced in March that he wanted to cut red tape prohibiting converting commercial property into homes.
Andrew Stanford, chair of the British Property Federation residential committee, will say: ‘The government’s consultation on the proposed relaxation on the planning rules to allow a change of use by way of permitted development from offices and possibly general industrial and storage and distribution to residential use has come as a pleasant surprise to the residential investment sector.
‘Coupled with the desperate need to increase housing supply, particularly in London and the south east, the proposal is to be welcomed, albeit with caution in key areas such as the City of London where it is likely that adjustments to the policy will be required.’