GLA calls on Boris to oppose retail-to-resi

The London Assembly has called on the Mayor of London to press the Government to abandon its plans to let developers convert shops into flats without planning permission.

Assembly Members backed a motion urging the Mayor to fight the policy which they believe will drive up rents for businesses, damage the high street, result in sub-standard residential developments and undermine the principle of localism.

The motion also warns that thriving businesses could be caught up in the new rules as landlords cash in on high house prices. Earlier this year the Assembly opposed similar rules designed to allow the conversion of offices into homes without planning approval.

Navin Shah AM, who proposed the motion said: “Government plans to allow developers to convert shops into homes without planning permission poses an unnecessary threat to the corner shops and local parades that are at the heart of our communities.

“We’ve already seen the Government introduce similar freedoms to convert offices into homes result in a quarter of applications for buildings that were still in use, potentially putting jobs at risk and causing extra costs for businesses forced to move.”

The Assembly believes that the new rules will creating “hope value” for retail premises in London whether viable or not, and drive up rents for small businesses. They think in some places it could result in the break up of retail areas, leaving shops isolated from one another by residential properties.

They also are concerned that any residential properties produced, since they will not have planning control from the local authority, will be sub-standard.

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