The Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has announced a series of planning measures, including the extension of Permitted Development Rights for the conversion of commercial space (Class E) to residential.
This proposal was previously consulted upon and London Property Alliance (WPA + CPA) responded with our concerns about the impact of core CAZ’s vibrancy and how it wouldn’t deliver the affordable housing Central London needs (link here).
The announcement made on 31 March 2021 includes some changes, including requiring properties to have a vacancy period of three months, a size threshold of 1,500 sqm and an extension of existing Article 4 directions (including office to residential in the CAZ) from July 2021 to July 2022.
Responding to the news, London Property Alliance Executive Director Charles Begley said:
“Whilst we welcome greater planning flexibility, we are very concerned about the unintended consequences of the Permitted Development Rights extension to allow the easy conversion of commercial space in London’s core Central Activities Zone. Although we recognise the new criteria put in place – taking an effective blanket approach to turning former shops, cafés or offices into housing in commercial districts would lead to the erosion of the vibrancy of city centres at a time when we should be helping these evolve for new ways of working and spending our leisure time.
“Given the CAZ’s high land values it would not deliver homes at affordable prices, or in locations with the required social and community infrastructure. In our submissions to Government, we called for an element of local control to be retained to protect London’s commercial core and locally-led placemaking.”
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