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Firms still at work in spaces for new homes in Brighton and Hove
Scores of new homes are planned for office buildings – some of which still have firms working in them.
After the Government relaxed planning restrictions at the end of May, Brighton and Hove City Council has received more than two applications a week from developers looking to turn work space into homes.
The council has recieved more applications than most other authorities in the country.
The projected 129 properties will be welcome news for those feeling the effects of the housing crisis in the city.
But business leaders have expressed concerns the unregulated loss of hundreds of square metres of office space will undermine employment growth.
Tony Mernagh, of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said he was concerned that many developers were looking to make a “quick buck” following the change in the rules.
He added: “The position of the economic partnership all along has been that this will be detrimental to the city’s ability to be a place where people can live and work.”
Since the Government removed the need to obtain planning permission for change of use from office space to residential, 19 change of use applications have been made to the city council.
Applications include 40 homes for Priory House in Bartholomew Square, Brighton, 16 for Ovest House in West Street, Brighton and five for Audley Street in Hove.
Some of the buildings, such as Mitre House in Western Road, Brighton, have been vacant for months.
But at least five – more than 25% – are currently in use by firms.
If the conversion goes ahead, companies will be forced to look elsewhere for a base.
To combat the loss of office space, the local authority has applied for an article 4 direction, which will halt any conversions in central Brighton, the New England Quarter and London Road area.
But it will not come into force until next July following a consultation period.
It comes as Islington Council, supported by Richmond, Tower Hamlets and Sutton, has announced it will be taking the government to the High Court to review the reasons why Whitehall officials decided to grant exemptions for certain areas but not others.
Only 17 local authorities across the country out of 165 were granted exemptions.
THE APPLICATIONS SO FAR
Ovest House, 58 West Street, Brighton - 16 residential units
6-6A Stone Street and 13A Castle Street, Brighton - six
Audley House, Hove Street, Hove - five
42 and 43 George Street, Brighton - five
9 Bristol Road, Brighton - one
Ash House, 26 Tongdean Lane, Brighton - one
2 Compton Road, Brighton - one
38A Millers Road, Brighton - three
25 Arthur Street, Hove - two
6 Blatchington Road, Hove - two
Bush Mews, Arundel Road, Brighton - one
First floor, 101 Church Road, Hove - one
89A Boundary Road Hove - one
First and second floors, 205A Preston Road, Brighton - two
Gill House, Conway Street, Hove - four
Heversham House, Boundary Road, Hove - 15
First floor, Mitre House, 149 Western Road, Brighton - 12
Priory House, Bartholomew Square, Brighton - 40
69 Middle Street, Brighton - 11
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