The London LEP has welcomed the the Secretary of State for Culture and Local Government’s statement on a number of changes to the use of permitted development rights (PDR) within the planning system.
Whilst the new rules include allowing the conversion to homes without a planning application of arcades, casinos and some storage and distribution premises, one measure that was notable by its absence was an extension of the contentious office-to-residential PDR scheme.
Following the announcement of consultation on extending the temporary PDR scheme (due to expire in May 2016), the London Enterprise Panel’s (LEP) SME Working Group has been making the case to government that the office-to-residential provisions should not be made permanent or extended. The SME Working Group has been made aware of numerous instances within London where conversion without planning permission has meant the loss of existing premises for businesses, with an associated negative impact on the provision of employment.
The Secretary of State’s statement gave no commitment to extending the office to residential scheme and instead advised that the government would consider the case further. In the Explanatory Memorandum to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, which introduces the other PDR changes, the government noted the response to the consultation had raised concerns on the future availability of business premises, the impact on surrounding businesses and the quality of the new dwellings.
Speaking about the decision not to extend the scheme at this time, SME Working Group Member Simon Pitkeathley, said: “It is a great relief to small businesses and the people they employ that the Government has not authorised an extension to office to residential change of use to date. This policy has resulted in smaller firms being moved out of their existing premises to make way for housing, with the potential loss of thousands of jobs. I hope that this policy will not be revisited and we will instead see more sustainable options for increasing the housing supply explored.”