26 February 2013

London looks to preserve offices in key business areas

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has submitted a letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles, detailing which areas of the capital he wants exempted from the housing plans.

This follows the government’s ruling to allow conversions of offices into homes without needing the permission of local authorities. However, there is an option to seek local exemption if this can be justified on economic grounds, which is what Mr Johnson is looking to do.

Local exemptions to office changes

According to the London Standard, Mr Johnson is urging exemptions for:

  • the Central London Activities Zone
  • part of the City Fringe
  • the commercial northern part of the Isle of Dogs.

His justification is that London should remain a key business district, saying it is vital to maintain a stock of quality office space in key areas to preserve jobs and growth.

Mr Johnson 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.”

Keeping flexible office space

There has been a lot of concern vented over government plans to allow office to residential conversions, with London only one of the cities now looking to seek exemptions in certain areas.

The main concern is over the flexibility of Britain’s office space, with fears that an economic upswing would leave the country surplus to requirement. Many developers have shown their support, although note that converting residential properties back into office buildings is a much trickier ask.