Lambeth passes ‘Article 4’ direction to protect workspace

Lambeth council has moved to block a planning rule that allows offices to turned into residential units with minimal planning permission.

Lambeth’s cabinet agreed last week to proceed with an Article 4 direction against central government imposed permitted planning rights, allowing developers to change office use as they wish.

The move will protect work space in key parts of the borough and ensure that economic growth, job creation and a thriving business community can flourish in Lambeth and that housing developments in the borough are up to standard, provide affordable homes and are built in appropriate areas.

Word from the Cabinet

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Regeneration, said: “This is an important step to protect both the business environment and residents.

“Since the office to residential permitted development rights were introduced by government we’ve seen the loss of thousands of square metres of office space – that’s potentially hundreds of jobs from the borough.

“We’ve also seen designs for residential units with no windows, or in locations that are simply unsuitable for people to live peacefully.  Any residential developments as a result of these rights contain no affordable housing as they don’t require planning permission.

“The council is best placed to decide what is appropriate in terms of changing the use of certain buildings in certain areas and this article 4 direction allows us to make those decisions properly.”

Proper planning

The Article 4 direction will not put a stop to all office to residential conversion plans, however it will ensure that any application goes through the proper planning process.

The direction covers Brixton Town Centre, a set of sites in and around Clapham Town Centre and ten of the borough’s designated Key Industrial and Business Areas, and will come into force in September.

Since the introduction of the original permitted development right in May 2013, Lambeth has received prior approval applications for office to residential conversions that have seen more than 20,000 square metres of office floor space lost.