Developers wanting to turn city centre offices into homes must now get planning permission after Brighton and Hove City Council changed its guidelines.
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.
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