Harlow Council has secured a new planning direction to prevent the spread of conversions of industrial and commercial properties into residential accommodation.
Following consultation with local businesses and property owners the Council has successfully introduced an Article 4 Direction covering the Harlow Enterprise Zone area - Templefields North East. This means that there’s now no automatic right for landowners in this area to convert business premises into residential accommodation. Landowners now have to go through the normal full planning application process – a process over which the Council has greater control.
Like many residents and businesses, the Council has been concerned about the impact that permitted development, which enables landowners to convert industrial/commercial properties into residential accommodation without planning permission, has been having on the town. The conversions in Harlow have often proved to be in areas without amenities for the residents and the developers make no contribution to infrastructure such as schools, new road crossings and health centres.
Whilst in some areas of the country where there are unused buildings in appropriate locations for people to live this may be welcome, Harlow Council is concerned that this legislation may also lead to a reduction of business premises in the Enterprise Zone at a time when it wants to see increased levels of employment in Harlow.
The Council doesn’t believe that the Enterprise Zone site in Templefields North East, would be a suitable residential area for people to live in and feel that it should be protected for business use only.
The Council is looking at introducing these rules to other areas of the town and it is carrying out a Scrutiny Committee review of the impact of permitted development. The Council is prepared to take action to protect jobs and employment within the town, as well as the quality of life of people who live in the town.
Permitted development dates back to 2015 when the Government introduced national legislation.
The Article 4 Direction for Templefields North East can be viewed at https://www.harlow.gov.uk/article4