Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey (pictured, above) has revealed that a Labour government would sweep aside the Permitted Development (PD) rights that currently enable offices to be converted into residential use without planning permission, or the need to stick to affordable housing quotas.
It is estimated that some 42,000 homes to rent and for sale have been created in converted offices since the rules were changed in 2015, denying local authorities some 10,000 affordable homes.
Labour has called some of the developments ‘slums’ and ‘rabbit hutch’ flats and has also called out one of the most notorious PD rights conversions, Barnet House in North London.
There council tenants in need of temporary accommodation have been found living within many of its 254 apartments in overcrowded conditions.
But although a ban of PD rights conversions may prevent low-quality housing being created, many developers also take advantage of PD rights to build micro-apartment developments both for the private rented market and to sell.
“The rules on office conversions are far from perfect and it is right that they should be tightened up, so that living standards are protected for Londoners trying to get on the housing ladder,” says Jonathan Seager, Executive Director of Housing at business campaign group London First (left).
“There’s no single solution to tackling London’s housing crisis and securing the 65,000 homes a year the city needs. Alongside more land being made available and more investment coming forward, better and more innovative ways of building are critical.”