Ahead of the introduction of controversial new rules allowing offices to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission, the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames said that it was “extremely concerned” about the impact of the policy. The south-west London borough was one of 165 local authorities which applied to the Department for Communities and Local Government for an exemption to the rules, and was among the majority of councils which failed to secure an opt-out. Richmond Council is particularly concerned about the impact of the eased planning rules, which came into force on 30 May, as it fears that the high value of housing in the borough will drive the owners of offices to cash in and covert their premises into flats, potentially displacing business and employment opportunities.
With the new rules not even in place for two months, Planning has learned that Richmond Council has already received 35 prior approval applications to convert offices into homes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, the borough has confirmed it will seek to introduce an Article 4 direction to exempt some of its key office locations from the new rules. The council has said it will support the London Borough of Islington’s legal battle against the government.
We’ve used data extracted from Richmond Council’s planning pages to create an interactive map of office-to-residential prior approval applications in the borough. Click on the icons to view details of each prior approval application, including a link to the relevant page on the council’s planning pages.