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It was perhaps only a matter of time until the government was forced to defend its legislation, brought in earlier this year, permitting office space to be converted to residential without the need for planning permission.
The form of attack is coming from London boroughs Islington, Camden, Richmond upon Thames and Lambeth, who have commenced a High Court challenge against the government’s changes, introduced in the form of a GPDO (General Permitted Development Order).
Of concern to the councils is that, by eradicating the need for planning permission, control of vast areas and countless properties has been removed from the councils. This means that the various factors that would have been considered in a change of use application will remain unaddressed. Such factors include potential imbalance of the office-to-residential ratio in an area, objections of local residents or property owners, adequacy of local infrastructure, adequacy of design and space, and affordability, not to mention potential higher demand on council services. The effects of the legislation – which has been made use of already by developers across the capital – could change the nature, environment, aesthetics, employment landscape and demographic of an area, with no voice from the council being able to be heard.
Other councils are also helping fund the litigation, including Tower Hamlets, Ealing and Sutton. The case is due to be heard at the High Court on the 4th December and the councils will be hoping to be able to stem the flood of conversions that are set to take advantage of London’s ever increasing residential property prices.
This news was brought to you by Morgan 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.