Letter for publication: permitted development rights
It is interesting to note that Barnet Council has finally adopted an ‘Article 4 direction’ (Times Aug 1st ) to prevent developers converting office buildings (and other commercial premises) into flats, without having to apply for planning permission, under the Conservative Government’s ‘permitted development rights.’ Whilst this overdue move is welcome, the question has to be asked as to why it has taken them so long, when other councils took this action years ago.
If Barnet had done so, they could have prevented, for example, the conversion of the tower block Premier House, Edgware from office accommodation to flats. This resulted firstly in a loss of reasonably priced office premises occupied by a number of small businesses and charities, whose leases were terminated so this inappropriate development could go ahead.
The development was opposed by the council’s own environmental health department on the grounds of poor air quality – but they had no power to stop it.
The developers took full advantage of the Conservatives’ permitted development rights, to avoid having to provide not just a proportion of affordable homes, as would normally be expected, but any affordable homes whatsoever.
And perhaps worse of all, Premier House had inflammable cladding like Grenfell Tower installed as part of the conversion. This must be removed but has not been taken down so far.
Andrew Dismore AM
Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden