Updated: nearly all London boroughs seek exemption from office conversion plan


Earlier, we reported that London’s Mayor Boris Johnson openly believes that London’s key business districts should be exempt from proposals to allow offices to be turned into homes without planning permission. Now a report emerges from CBRE that all but a handful of London’s boroughs are to seek to make themselves exempt from the rules.  According to the research, only Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Croydon and Kingston are unlikely to seek an exemption. Four other boroughs are discussing plans with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the remaining 25 are set to apply to make themselves exempt.

The Mayor has been seeking exemptions for three defined areas in central London. The first is the Central Activities Zone which includes the City of London, the South Bank and the West End. More than a third of London’s jobs are within this area, and a further 280,000 jobs are expected to be created here in the next 25 years. The Mayor is also seeking exemptions for the commercial area north of the Isle of Dogs and London’s Enterprise Zones in the Royal Docks, plus the part of the City Fringe in east London which makes up the emerging “Tech City” opportunity area. This case has wide business and borough support.

Mark Field, MP for Westminster and the City of London, said: “Converting offices to homes in central London areas will only lead to expensive homes, not affordable homes, at a cost to the business community – which I think negates exactly what the Government is trying to achieve in terms of housing and growth.”

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, has already said local authorities will be able to seek an exemption “if they can demonstrate there would be substantial adverse economic consequences.”