London office

13 million sq ft of London office space could be lost to conversions

A total of 13.3 million sq ft of London office space could be lost to office-to-residential conversions, a new report has revealed.

Research published by the British Council for Offices (BCO) has found that due to the permitted development rights introduced in 2013, 7.5 million sq ft of office space in London has been converted to homes and a further 5.7 million sq ft of conversions has been approved.

On average, two million sq ft has been converted each year since 2013, or 0.7% of the total London office stock.

In 2015, nine million sq ft of office space was lost due to the creation of 11,155 homes from offices, almost double the figure for the previous year (5.3 million sq ft).

The report titled ‘Permitted Development Rights: One year on from permanence’ was commissioned by the BCO and carried out by property consultants CBRE.

Miles Gibson, UK head of research at CBRE, said: “The new permitted development rights have made a significant contribution to housing supply. 

“However, following its introduction we have seen a decline in office stock in England for the first time in over 10 years. 

“There is strong evidence to suggest that this decline is due to these new rights, rather than economic or other regulatory factors.”

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the British Council for Offices, added: “There is no denying that more housing is needed in many parts of the UK, and the conversion of some older buildings which are no longer suitable as offices is a sensible solution. 

“However, once office space is lost to residential development, it is often lost for good. 

“To ensure future economic prosperity, local authorities must take a more active approach to reviewing and approving notifications from developers in order to protect the workplaces needed by local businesses.” 


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