London Property Conversion Plans in a Pickle
Proposals to help relax planning rules around London office or residential building conversions has been attacked by councils, who believe that the plans could result in low quality results and pose a “threat” to business development.
Earlier this year Communities Secretary Eric Pickles put forward plans to help cut red tape for developers that want to convert London office buildings into housing, and vice versa, in a move that was expected to help speed up the process and improve the UK economy.
The move has been supported by construction firms such as Taylor Wimpey and Berkeley as well as groups including the Home Builders Federation and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
But London councils have reportedly reacted negatively to the plans based on fears that it will take control away from local boroughs, which contradicts the coalition’s pledge to localise such procedures. In particular, the City of London Corporation is against losing control and has hit back at the plans, from its dedicated stance to keep the City a chiefly office-dominated area for the benefit of financial and insurance services industries.
According to the Financial Times, the City of London Corporation is opposed to the idea as it feels Mr Pickles’ proposals could “post a threat to the City’s international competitiveness.”
Similarly, London Councils – a group which represents the 32 local authorities in the capital – claim that the proposal “runs contrary to the government’s stated localist intent” and that converting office buildings into homes could result in a low standard of quality, that fails to conform to “lifetime homes, living space or environmental standards.”
It also agreed that conversions from office to home could “constrain business development” in the area.
The plans are currently under review following the feedback.
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