March 11, 2013
Land Securities is the latest developer to announce a major office to flats conversion in the wake of the Government’s change to the relevant parts of the planning system that make it easier to change the use of buildings. The firm has submitted plans to convert the 29 floors of Portland House in Victoria into 206 flats along with ground floor retail units. Land Securities is one of the first firms to take advantage of the new planning rules which have been the subject of much criticism by organisations such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as well as local authorities throughout London who have almost unanimously sought exemptions.
Land Securities is planning a wave of similar schemes across the capital and has already submitted plans for the conversion of a large office building in Oxford Street into shops and 89 apartments. Portland House was built in 1963 and, standing at 101m, is London’s 48th tallest building.
Critics believe the new planning regime making it easier for developers to change the use of buildings will lead to structural changes in the property market and a shortage of appropriate office space as developers look to convert office space into more lucrative dwellings. Concerns have also been expressed about the impact on areas such as the Government’s flagship Tech City zone which already suffers from a shortage of the right kind of properties for startups and smaller businesses in the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector.