Local Business 'At Risk' From New Planning Policy

Hounslow Council refused exemption from planning rules

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The failure of government to allow Hounslow Council an exemption from a new planning policy which puts the focus on housing not office space could put the local economy at risk, according to London Assembly member Murad Qureshi.

Hounslow has been refused an exemption from the Government’s new policy allowing developers to turn offices into flats without planning permission. Two-thirds of London Councils were turned down, putting businesses at risk, according to Mr. Qureshi.

The Labour Londonwide Assembly Member said: “These exemptions should be seen for what they are - a Government which trumpets localism whilst once again ignores local concerns. It’s extraordinary that Hounslow was not given an exemption when the local economy needs all the help it can get. The vast majority of London is at risk of losing the office space that existing small businesses and start-ups rely on to thrive.

“We know there are better ways of getting housing than at the expense of jobs and growth. The difference in value between employment and residential properties is already high, and this policy will double or treble it in areas which aren’t exempted.”

 Under the new regime businesses are practically confined to areas dictated by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, he said.

"By drawing boundaries around exempted areas the Government is directing where business should develop and cluster. Previously clusters like Tech City, which has been exempted, could expand naturally.

"The planning system already provides local authorities the tools to allow conversions where appropriate. Hounslow applied for an exemption but was unsuccessful. Local government officers complained they found out about the decisions on a public website," said Mr. Qureshi in a statement.


May 14, 2013