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Croydon Council seeks to circumvent permitted development rights to stop offices being converted into 'substandard' homes

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THE council wants to extend its planning powers to prevent offices in Croydon town centre being converted into flats. 

It says 1,074 out of 1,236 units approved since permitted development rights were introduced in May last year have been "substandard". 

The measure will protect "much-needed" office space being lost, the council said.

Permitted development rights allow offices to be converted into housing without planning permission.

There is no requirement for developers to supply affordable housing or meet the Mayor of London's space standards.  

The law has prompted the purchase of a number of former office blocks, such as the BT building in Wellesley Road, with a view to converting them into flats. 

Croydon was among local authorities to unsuccessfully apply for an exemption when the policy was introduced. 

The council says concerns with the office space and the quality of accommodation have now been realised.

As a result it has informed local government Secretary Eric Pickles that, from 10 September 2015, it intends to bring in powers known as Article 4 that revoke the permitted development right. 

A report going to cabinet on Monday (October 20) reveals that, since permitted development was introduced, 86 per cent (1,074) of the units in Croydon approved using the powers were "substandard" residential accommodation. 

In a statement published today, the council said the report "clarifies" its planning policy to protect office space in the central Croydon area, in particular around East Croydon station. 

A special report by the Advertiser in January found that one in two offices in the town centre is empty

Labour's Croydon Growth Plan, published earlier this month, set out plans to establish Croydon as a "premier office location" containing £1 million sq ft of "high quality" office space. 

Cllr Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: "We want to give certainty to investors and developers about our support for office developments.

"While we are committed to providing new homes for Croydon residents, this is not at any cost. We are determined that all our homes, from whatever sector, should be decent and fit for purpose.

"In addition, the loss of office space is also resulting in a loss of jobs and opportunities for local people." 

Croydon Council seeks to circumvent permitted development rights to stop offices being converted into 'substandard' homes


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