City centre offices must get planning permission to convert into homes

Posted On 26 Jul 2014 at 11:40 am
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Developers wanting to turn city centre offices into homes must now get planning permission after Brighton and Hove City Council changed its guidelines.

New England House by Rowan Collins on Flickr

New England House by Rowan Collins on Flickr

The move is a reaction to the government’s change in planning law in May last year which removed the need for developers to do this.

In response, the council has introduced an Article 4 Direction which reinstates this hurdle for offices in central Brighton, New England Quarter and London Road, Edward Street Quarter and City Park.

The government asked for minor changes to be made to the article before it went live yesterday, but the areas protected are unchanged.

However developers that have already secured prior approval to convert their office building to residential under the government scheme before yesterday will not be affected and this has been made clear by modifications to the wording of the direction requested by the Secretary of State.

Further details are on the council’s website and there will be a public notice next week.

The government introduced a temporary change in planning law in May 2013 that removed the need to obtain planning permission for change of use from office space to residential.

Brighton and Hove City Council and their leading partners in economic development of the city feared that the relaxation of planning permission could affect the city’s business growth. It decided to introduce a measure that would mean permission is still required in areas where employment space was most needed to provide future jobs. A proposal was drawn up and consulted on.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, chair of the city’s planning committee, said: “We notified the Secretary of State about the article 4 direction and are pleased that he has accepted this measure without changing any of the proposed areas. It shows that we have made the right decision in making sure our key employment sites are protected.

“If we lost even 10% of our city centre offices the impact would be enormous – 700 office jobs would go. We have the 4th largest growth in the country for private sector jobs and our decision will help protect job creation into the future.

“We recognise the pressing need for new homes but have to find a balance between homes and jobs.

“Every planning application is considered on its merits, and there will be applications suitable for some housing. The planning process also enables local communities to have a say on proposals as well as giving planning officers the opportunity to negotiate community benefits and affordable housing if change of use is recommended.”

Requiring planning permission in the selected areas will not mean that office space can never be converted to homes. Annual average losses of 3,000 square metres of office space to other uses shows that the council considers change of use applications on merit against local planning policies.

  1. ian killmister Reply

    Tied up by their own red tape !

    I wonder if bhcc ever applied for planning permission for change of use when they enclosed their balconies and passed them off as INTERNAL ?

    who knows ?
    luv lemme x

  2. Helen Hand Reply

    Wait till they fudge their own policies to convert Kings House. They can’t ofo it via this permitted route as it’s listed. But their own protection of employment policy applies. Everyone else has to market their offices for a year and fight against a presumption I. favour, who bets the Council will just wave it through.

    Doubtlessly some tosh over preservation of the Listed Bullding will be used, but reality is a public body shouldn’t be putting and listed building it’s owns in a position where this exemption can be justified in the first place.

  3. saveHOVE Reply

    Helen, BHCC has appointed London agents to market Kings House. It has to be on the market for one year, marketed as offices. Should the building not find a buyer for that purpose, then the council are free to organise change of use and get it returned to use for housing.

    This was originally built as a terrace of, I believe, four houses which later became a hotel for a short period before becoming offices and having an extension up Grand Avenue put on it by Seeboard.

    BHCC would be mortified if anyone does buy it for offices as they DO want housing there.

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