Office conversion plans 'could scupper growth'

Thu 18th April 2013, 3:45 pm

Plans to allow offices to be converted to homes without planning permission could stifle economic recovery, according to the London Assembly's planning committee.

The committee has written to communities secretary Eric Pickles claiming the plans, outlined by his department, could have a significant impact on London’s economic recovery and potentially create a shortage of business premises in future years.

The committee has also raised concerns over the quality and affordability of the housing resulting from any conversions and a potential lack of infrastructure to support new homes.

The letter concludes with the request that if the plans come into effect, that London be exempt as an exceptional case.

Nicky Gavron, chair of the planning committee said: "We are very concerned that these proposals could jeopardise London’s future economic growth.

"London may have spare office space, but turning business premises into homes is not the answer.

"The committee heard worrying evidence about the potential impact on jobs and small businesses and there is a real danger these plans could do more harm than good.

"This is an unnecessary and ill-thought through idea which will lead to serious unintended consequences.

"The Government needs to reconsider these proposals because it is vital that any decisions made today are in London’s best long-term interests and don’t harm the capital’s potential jobs and growth."

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