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London boroughs lose 'office to resi' legal challenge

Thu 16th January 2014, 11:21 am

A coalition of London local authorities including Camden, Islington and Richmond have lost their legal challenge to the government’s new development rights allowing offices to be converted to homes without planning permission.

The challenge focused on the way the government handled the process for seeking exemptions from the new permitted development rights regime, with the coalition of councils arguing the way the government handled the exemptions process was unfair.

But Mr Justice Collins dismissed the judicial review claim. While expressing some concern on the methodology used, he found the process as a whole to be lawful.

London councils which have not received exemption are concerned the new right will damage the economies in their boroughs due to the loss of office space and jobs.

James Murray, Islington’s executive member for housing, said: "This government policy has created a reckless free-for-all in the planning system - we are very concerned about its impact and so we are disappointed by the outcome of this case.

"The loss of all these offices is damaging our local economy and it's not producing the sort of homes we need.

"There is no control over the quality or size of the new flats, and they don't include any affordable housing at all - a fact the judge felt was worrying and that we know is very bad news for Islington."

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