Leader backs national call to scrap office block conversions

Published date

Today (11 January) the national voice of councils, the Local Government Association (LGA), has called for permitted development rights to be scrapped after figures released show the number of office to residential conversions made in England.

Permitted development rights allow office blocks to be converted into housing without the need for planning permission. Such conversions in Harlow include Terminus House in the town centre.

Figures released by the LGA show that in 2018/19 more than half (51 per cent) of all new homes in Harlow were office conversions.

Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council, said:

“I have long called for the government to review its permitted development rights so the LGA’s call for this policy to be scrapped is most welcome. The unplanned conversion of offices to residential homes has had detrimental effect on Harlow and has impacted on those who have been moved into such developments from other areas.

“We have taken our own action by introducing Article 4 Directions in employment areas so that any future conversions have to go through the full planning permission process. But there is an easier solution, with a stroke of a pen the government can simply scrap permitted development rights. Abolishing permitted development rights would give us back control. It will ensure that new housing developments meet high standards and include affordable housing and that they are planned with the right infrastructure and support in place.”