Search

Islington Council bid to opt out of office to flat conversion rules turned down

16:28 14 July 2014

Cllr James Murray

Cllr James Murray

Archant

A town hall bid to opt out of Government plans allowing developers to turn offices into bedsits almost at will has been rejected in what the council says is an “ill-founded, eleventh-hour intervention”.

Nick Boles MPNick Boles MP

The legislation, adopted in May 2013, lets office space be turned 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.

Already 68 buildings have been given prior approval to be converted in the borough under the new rules – 45,000 sq meters of office space which the town hall say equates to 3,000 jobs. In some cases, the council says small businesses and charities have been evicted.

To escape the plans, the council made an Article 4 direction to remove right to convert offices to homes from July 15 – but two days before the direction was due to come in, planning minister Nick Boles MP thew it out.

Councillor James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “I’m very frustrated by the planning minister’s decision to stop us doing what’s right for Islington.

“We’re already seeing small businesses and charities being evicted from offices to make way for bedsits. People are losing out on jobs, affordable housing, and any community benefit.

“I’m also very disappointed that 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. Islington has consistently greatly exceeded its housing targets and is set to continue to do so.”

Of the homes created in these spaces so far, an estimated two thirds are one-bedroom flats or bedsits – and no affordable housing has been created.

The planning minister said the council had “applied their direction disproportionately”.

He added: “These practical planning reforms are providing badly needed new homes on brownfield sites, close to urban locations and transport links, at no cost to the taxpayer.

“Yet a small minority of town halls are trying to undermine these reforms, not least, since they are unable to hit such builders with state levies or since they may have an irrational objection to more private housing.

“Yet, these conversions coming forward will help offer competitively priced properties, accessible to hard-working people.”

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 16:30
Two new train strikes are planned for June 4 and June 9  (Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images)

Network Rail workers are to stage two strikes next month after a new pay offer was rejected.

Yesterday, 15:51
Alan Cartwright was knifed to death in February

18-year-old set for court appearance today following Alan’s brutal stabbing in February

Yesterday, 09:03
Councillor Paul Convery said the young offenders service and probation must improve

Most crimes committed by “small group of persistent offenders”

Yesterday, 08:12
Friends paid tribute Joe Walker at the spot where he was killed

A teenage boy has been given a 12-month-detention order for his part in the death of Joe Walker, a 17-year-old from Stroud Green who was killed in a road crash last October.

Most read news

Competitions

The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder