Fight against office to flat conversion rages on as Islington Council write to Secretary of State
10:14 13 August 2014
The town hall is fighting on against new rules to allow developers to turn offices into flats without permission.
Islington Council have written to the Secretary of State asking him to quash an earlier decision not to let the borough opt out of the Government policy.
The legislation, adopted in May 2013, lets office space be changed into housing with no planning permission, without notifying people and without the local authority being able to make sure the houses are up to scratch.
The council had initially asked the Government to make the borough exempt, then revised their request and just asked for parts of the borough to be allowed to opt out, but the planning minister Nick Boles MP scuppered its plans at the last minute.
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “The Government is trying to stop us doing what’s right for Islington.
“Small businesses and charities have already been evicted from their offices to make way for bedsits. People in Islington are losing out on jobs, affordable housing, and any community benefit.
“The planning minister waited until the eleventh hour to overturn our decision, refused to accept a compromise we offered, and in his reasoning got his figures wrong. Given the circumstances, a legal challenge is our only option.”
In Islington 71 office buildings have already obtained prior approval for conversion, with 11 further applications submitted.
The total loss of office space is around 45,000 square metres – which the council estimate is capable of accommodating between 3,000 and 3,500 jobs. Around half of the floorspace was occupied and in some cases, small businesses and charities have been evicted.