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Anger over office space conversions plan by Brighton and Hove City Council
Property experts have slammed a council’s attempt to reverse a government decision on converting offices to homes.
Brighton and Hove City Council is using a loophole in regulations to reverse laws making converting offices to homes easier.
It is the first council in the country to put forward a proposal to ensure owners of office buildings will still need planning permission to change their office building to residential use.
The plan, known as an Article 4 direction, would apply to central Brighton, New England Quarter and London Road Area and two office sites at the Edward Street Quarter and City Park in Hove.
It would remove the temporary permitted development rights and would come into force after 12 months to allow for extensive consultation.
In May, the Government removed the need to obtain planning permission for change of use from office space to residential.
The council believes the Government’s proposals will lead to a planning free-forall.
But Chris Oakley, boss at Oakley commercial property and residential agents in Marlborough Place, said the move was anti-development.
He said: “There is a lot of empty office space in the city and homes are much needed. I do not understand why the council has done this.”
Paul Burgess, a director at Lewis and Co Planning in Port Hall Road said it was perverse to expect the government to change course.
He said: “This seems like a waste of time to me. There is a large degree of office space that is not being used. The government’s proposals seem like a sensible way forward.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “We have limited space, so need to provide a balance so that growing businesses have affordable premises where they can develop.”
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