Wandsworth seeks to protect employment space

Wandsworth Council is aiming to use its planning powers to give greater protection to office and business premises in the borough to prevent employment space being turned into housing.

It is proposing using its Article 4 powers to ensure that developers will need planning permission before being allowed to turn offices into homes.

The use of these Article 4 planning powers was recently applied to 120 of the borough’s pubs and comes in response to the extension of permitted development rights for conversion to homes to employment space.

Strategic planning spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Office and commercial floorspace is the lifeblood of the local economy. Shops, offices and other business premises generate jobs and economic growth.

“Ensuring there is sufficient space for existing businesses to expand and also for new company start-ups is in our strategic interests.

“Since the rules were relaxed we have seen much employment space in the borough switched to residential use and therefore it is important we utilise the Article 4 powers available to us to redress that balance.

“Without taking this action lots more office floorspace could be lost leaving parts of the borough with very limited employment opportunities for local people and transforming Wandsworth into just another residential catchment area of central London. “

The Article 4 rules will not apply to all office space in the borough, particularly if they are not located in main business hubs or are in outlying locations that are poorly connected to public transport or not part of a wider employment area.

The new rules will apply to all the boroughs main town centres and other employment hotspots and are expected to come into force in 2017.

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