Agreement reached in Islington office-to-homes permitted development rights battle

Out-Law News | 19 Sep 2014 | 4:47 pm | 1 min. read

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Islington Council have finally reached agreement on the restriction of permitted development rights in the London borough, meaning certain locations will be protected from the conversion of offices to homes without the need to apply for planning permission.

The UK government introduced a temporary permitted development right in May 2013, allowing developers in most parts of England to convert offices into homes without having to apply to local planning authorities for full permission to do so. Two attempts by the Council to disapply the right in Islington using an 'Article 4 direction' were blocked by former planning minister Nick Boles.

Boles initially asked the Council to reduce the scope of a direction that sought to remove the right from the whole borough, and subsequently quashed a more targeted direction, arguing that the Council had failed to meet its housing targets between 2009 and 2013.

However, the Council said last month that it was optimistic that a compromise could be reached with the government after the DCLG admitted Boles had been mistaken in his interpretation of the housing figures and agreed to rescind the decision to quash the second direction.

Both the Council and the DCLG have now confirmed that agreement has been reached on an Article 4 direction covering limited areas of the borough.  The Council said that a revised direction would apply in "the most strategically significant locations outside the Central Activities Zone (which is already protected from permitted development rights)". The protected areas include parts of Kings Cross, Angel and Upper Street, Archway, Holloway Road, Hornsey Road, Finsbury Park and Seven Sisters Road, the Council said.

"The government's initial decision to block us was wrong, and we were right to challenge it," said the Council's executive member for housing and development, councillor James Murray in a statement. "I’m pleased that we have been able to have a constructive dialogue in recent weeks and reach an agreement which protects the most important clusters of businesses and charities in the borough."

“We have said from day one that the government’s office-to-flats policy is having a detrimental effect on Islington and, in fact, right across London," added Murray. "The extremely high value of flats in Islington meant that small businesses and charities were being evicted – and so today’s agreement is important as it means we will be able to protect many of them.”