May 19 2013 Latest news:
Friday, February 22, 2013
Areas of London including the City and Enterprise Zones in the Royal Docks should be exempt from proposals to allow offices to be turned into homes without planning permission, the city’s mayor has said.
Boris Johnson believes it is vital to maintain a “stock of quality office space in key areas” to ensure the city can continue to attract jobs and growth, and that allowing offices to be turned into homes in some areas would break up clusters which contribute billions to the national economy.
He wants to see three areas of London exempted from government proposals.
These are the Central Activities Zone, which includes the City of London, the South Bank and the West End, as more than a third of London’s jobs are within this area and a further 280,000 jobs are expected to be created here in the next 25 years, according to the Mayor’s Office.
Mr Johnson is also seeking exemptions for the commercial area north of the Isle of Dogs and London’s Enterprise Zones in the Royal Docks, plus the part of the City Fringe in east London which makes up the emerging “Tech City” opportunity area.
The Mayor said: “London is a colossal powerhouse of jobs and growth, not only for the UK but of international significance.
“Its success depends on a rich mix of uses and the high value of residential property in central London could upset this and change the area for good.
“So it is absolutely vital we can plan for these key areas so we continue to attract investment and businesses, maintaining London’s status as a global commercial hub.”
The Mayor believes the current planning system, under which office space cannot be converted into homes without local authority planning permission, has a “vital role” to play in making sure the mix of uses in central London is properly considered.
Mark Field, MP for Westminster and the City of London, said: “Converting offices to homes in central London areas will only lead to expensive homes, not affordable homes, at a cost to the business community – which I think negates exactly what the government is trying to achieve in terms of housing and growth.”