The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to recruit a team of entrepreneurs and business leaders to help protect London’s workshops, studios and workspaces.
The Workspace Providers Board will advise on securing workspace, including through the planning process, and creating new space, for example through identifying sites for building new developments or re-fitting empty space in existing buildings.
The Board will also advise the Mayor on wider challenges and issues around workspace, such as permitted development rights and general affordability.
Research published recently by The Institute for Public Policy Research estimates that London’s open workspaces host 31,000 people and generate £1.7 billion for the capital’s economy. The report recommends continuing to protect workspace through the planning system and using surplus public sector assets to create new workspaces in areas of employment growth.
The Mayor says he will write to all of London’s boroughs asking them to support and help create affordable workspace in their local areas. Sadiq will ask the boroughs to signal their commitment to protecting workspace by signing up to a workspace pledge.
The pledge will ask boroughs to support the important role of workspace for start-ups, small businesses and artists in London by implementing a number of measures, including:
• Limiting the conversion of office space to residential space through permitted development rights.
• Encouraging the provision of affordable workspace through planning policy and good practice.
• Ensuring new developments include non-residential space suitable for the needs of small businesses.
• Seeking funding and partnerships to create new space for start-ups, small businesses, the creative industries and artists.
The Mayor continues to urge ministers to give London greater control of permitted development rights and business rates in his continuing drive to help small businesses
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I promised to be the most pro-business Mayor London has ever seen – and now I’m delivering on that promise by protecting workspace for the use of local entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“When we give Londoners with skills and talent the space they need to fulfil their potential, we pave the way for the great businesses of tomorrow.
“Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to expand your business or a creative start-up that needs more space to work, my message to you is that London is open for those with ideas and passion.”
Clare McNeil, IPPR Associate Director for work and families said: “Affordable workspaces are vital to sustaining London’s start-ups and creative and social enterprises. They are the lifeblood of London’s economy, with over thirty thousand people working in them, including growing numbers of London’s self-employed in need of flexible workspace.
“However in many cases rents for these workspaces are becoming unsustainable. The government’s relaxation of planning rules for office to residential conversions is also leading to a shortage of affordable workspace in some areas, as well as little in the way of affordable housing.
“Action needs to be taken if London’s rich and diverse micro businesses are not to be squeezed out. The Mayor is announcing important measures today, but central government should devolve extra powers as well to make sure these workspaces are properly nurtured.”