Is Lord Goddard asking questions in the Lords on behalf of Orbit Developments?

Lord Goddard of Stockport Liberal Democrat 3:07
pm, 2nd December 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government
what is their assessment of how the policy to allow offices to be converted
into housing has worked so far, and whether they intend to extend the policy
beyond next year, when it is due to lapse.

Baroness Williams of Trafford The
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

My Lords, we announced on 12 October that we would make permanent the
permitted development right for the change of use from office to residential
use. From April 2014 toJune 2015, 3,971 schemes
have secured the permitted development right, which will deliver much-needed
new homes.

Lord Goddard of Stockport Liberal Democrat

I thank the Minister for that Answer. Is she aware that the British Council for Offices has
estimated that 6 million square feet of office accommodation has been lost? In London, it is more
disastrous than that: 834,000 square metres have been lost, 40% of which was
due to evictions. They are thriving businesses trying to deliver for the
economy, which have been thrown out by unscrupulous landlords trying to make
profit from running around the planning rules. This is an unintended
consequence of a policy that was right when it was brought in. We should look
again because clearly that was not the idea. It was to create jobs and homes,
not to create the complete opposite, which is what is happening.

Baroness Williams of Trafford The
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I thank the
noble Lord for that useful supplementary question. As he and I know, in
Stockport and Trafford the policy has worked very well and has helped to
deliver much needed footfall and population to some of our town centres. The British Council for Offices estimates that the right has resulted in 7,600 much-needed homes,
including in London and the south-east. The office market continues to develop,
as noted by the British Council for Offices, with modern office developments
being brought forward, but where there is evidence that it is necessary to
protect the amenity and well-being of existing business areas, as the noble
Lord said, local planning authorities can bring forward Article 4 directions to
remove the right and require a planning application. Twenty local planning
authorities have already done this.