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Business, Housing

Lambeth Council commits to protect office space

Lambeth Council has approved a measure to protect valuable office space from being turned into residential units.
Lambeth has a high number of small businesses and is increasingly popular with start-ups and more established companies but the council warns the loss of office space directly undermines the borough’s potential for economic growth and development, including scope for business expansion, job retention and creation.

The council is to implement what’s known as an Article 4 direction which would protect designated areas including Brixton and parts of Clapham from ‘permitted development rights’ introduced by the government which has already seen the loss of vital office space, in some cases forcing businesses out of the borough.  The direction means people would have to apply for planning permission to change use of an office to housing in the designated areas.

Lambeth supports the creation of more housing to meet and exceed its housing target, and believes there is sufficient land to meet that need. Housing is not appropriate in office clusters and in some areas occupied by light industrial or waste services, where there can be an impact from noise, dust or smells .  There’s also no control over the quality of housing created under permitted development rights and the council cannot secure affordable housing on those sites.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member for Regeneration, Business and Culture said : “ Lambeth needs homes and jobs but the government’s scheme risks us losing valuable employment space and having poor quality housing which is no win for anyone except speculative developers. Businesses can’t grow and nor can our local economy if we lose space for people to work and end up with substandard accommodation like beds in sheds. ”

One high profile example of prior approvals for change of use from office to residential is The Piano House in Brixton: a long-standing and well-regarded hub for flexible and low-cost small business space, fully occupied by a range of mainly creative sector firms.  Despite being protected as a Key Industrial and Business Area the majority of the B1(a) floor space has received prior approval for change of use to residential under the permitted development right.

Lambeth Council believes Article 4 protection will provide a ‘ring’ around areas designated for employment, office and business space.

The areas proposed are:

1.    Clapham North Industrial Estate Key Industrial and Business Area (KIBA)
2.    Durham Street/Oval Way KIBA
3.    Eurolink Business Centre KIBA
4.    Kennington Business Park KIBA
5.    Lion Yard KIBA
6.    Park Hall Trading Estate KIBA
7.    Shakespeare Road Business Centre KIBA
8.    Southbank House and Newport Street – Part KIBA
9.    Stannary Street KIBA
10.    Timber Mill Way KIBA
11.    Brixton Town Centre Overview
12.    Brixton Town Centre North West
13.    Brixton Town Centre East
14.    Brixton Town Centre South
15.    Clapham Sites

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