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While 2013 held much good news in terms of the property market, one controversial aspect was the introduction by the government of a change to the planning laws. This played out during much of last year, eventually being passed and allowing an expansion of the permitted development legislation whereby no planning permission is needed, in some areas, to change a property from office use to residential use – a change welcomed by many landlords and one which enables them to take advantage of higher residential property prices.
Many London boroughs applied for exemptions – although these had to be specific-area applications, as opposed to blanket exemptions. Seventeen areas were eventually exempted. The concerns of various local authorities in the capital included lack of office supply in areas, inability to control infrastructure and local provisions by imposing conditions on development, the lack of affordable housing requirements and the removal from the councils’ control of the underlying nature of an area. While the new rights came into force at the end of May 2013, the repercussions were beginning to be felt in the months that followed.
As a result, a legal challenge was launched jointly by the London Boroughs of Islington, Camden, Lambeth and Richmond. The councils argued that the procedure by which exemptions were examined was unlawful. They claimed that the information provided by the government was insufficient to allow them to make a proper application for exemption. However, the case has now been heard and the judge has not agreed with the councils in that the government’s methods amounted to unfairness, although he was not uncritical of the government’s legislation and its implementation.
The councils have voiced their disappointment with the result and fear that areas such as Islington will suffer as an economy while being unable to provide housing of a proper standard, as a result of this legislation.
This news was brought to you byMorgan Pryce, a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants.