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Government “naive” about office to homes proposals, says Westminster City Council

Parts of London should be exempt from proposals to allow offices to be turned into homes without planning permission. Picture: Carmen Valino Parts of London should be exempt from proposals to allow offices to be turned into homes without planning permission. Picture: Carmen Valino

Friday, February 22, 2013
10:54 AM

The government has been branded “naive” by Westminster City Council over its proposals to allow offices to be turned into homes without planning permission.

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London Mayor Boris Johnson today called on the government to exempt parts of the city from the proposals, saying business hubs needed to be protected to ensure they continued to attract investment.

The areas he wants exempted are the Central Activities Zone, which includes the City of London, the South Bank and the West End; the commercial area north of the Isle of Dogs and London’s Enterprise Zones in the Royal Docks; plus the part of the City Fringe in east London which makes up the emerging “Tech City” opportunity area.

Much of Westminster lies within the Central Activities Zone.

Cllr Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, who has looked after the planning brief for over 10 years in the city, said: “The government is being a little naive on this issue. In commercial areas like Westminster and the City of London we are successful largely because of businesses.

“To allow offices to convert to residential, you are going to lose the heart and centre of business.

“Right now Westminster can insist on developments providing at least 30 per cent in affordable homes as part of any scheme, local authorities need to retain that control.”

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