Lambeth Council to block PD rights for office-to-resi

Lambeth Council is to proceed with an Article 4 direction against permitted development rights allowing developers to change office use as they wish.

The move comes as the council looks to protect work space in key parts of the borough and ensure economic growth, job creation and a business community can thrive in Lambeth.

The council also hopes the decision will ensure that housing developments are brought up to standard and affordable homes can be provided in appropriate areas.

“This is an important step to protect both the business environment and residents,” said Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for business, culture and regeneration at Lambeth Council.

“Since the office-to-residential permitted development rights were introduced by government, we’ve seen the loss of thousands of square metres of office space – that’s potentially hundreds of jobs from the borough.”

The Article 4 direction will not put an end to all office-to-residential conversion plans, but developers will now have to apply through the proper planning process.

The direction – which comes into force in September – will cover Brixton town centre, a set of sites in and around Clapham town centre and 10 of Lambeth’s key industrial and business areas.

Since the introduction of the original permitted development rights in May 2013, Lambeth has received prior approval applications for office-to-residential conversions that have seen more than 20,000 sq metres of office floor space lost.

“We’ve also seen designs for residential units with no windows, or in locations that are simply unsuitable for people to live peacefully,” Cllr Hopkins added.

“Any residential developments as a result of these rights contain no affordable housing as they don’t require planning permission.

“The council is best placed to decide what is appropriate in terms of changing the use of certain buildings in certain areas and this Article 4 direction allows us to make those decisions properly.”

The news comes after Wandsworth Council called on more London local authorities to place Article 4 directions to protect pubs from redevelopment.

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