The council said that it was taking action to ensure that key business and office space in the St Albans district wasn’t turned into flats and houses.
Mary Maynard, the council’s portfolio holder for planning, has issued Article 4 directions which will come into force on 22nd March next year, 12 months after the start of a consultation.
Owners of business premises in those areas will then have to apply to the council for planning permission for conversions, which the council has said it would likely refuse.
Cllr Maynard’s decision followed an eight-week consultation, where owners of affected business properties were among those asked for their views.
The Article 4 directions will cover change of use from office, light industrial, storage and distribution to residential.
“I studied the results of the consultation very closely and took all views into consideration before deciding to confirm the Article 4 directions,” said Cllr Maynard.
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“Research by council officers had shown that many business premises had been lost to housing in recent years.
“There is no doubt in my mind – and that of the local business community – that this steep reduction in office space was making it more difficult for businesses to thrive here.
“It was getting harder to stay or start-up in St Albans or relocate here.”
St Albans Chamber of Commerce jointly led the proposals and its president David Clarke said it had given strong backing to the council’s attempts to protect office and business space in the city.
“The business community will be delighted with this initiative, which will allow them to plan for a future based in St Albans.
“There had been rising concern that some businesses may be forced out of St Albans if nothing was done to stop premises being converted into flats and houses.”
The designated areas that are being consulted on for the Article 4 direction are: Brick Knoll Park, Alban Park-Acrewood Way-Lyon Way, North Orbital Trading Estate, Porters Wood-Soothouse Spring, City Station, city centre and Abbey Station, all in St Albans; and Coldharbour Lane and Southdown Industrial Estate, in Harpenden.