Inspector gives permission for 75-unit office-to-homes conversion in Beckenham

Out-Law News | 12 Sep 2014 | 3:30 pm | 1 min. read

A planning inspector has allowed an appeal from developer Perfect Estates Limited (PEL) and granted approval for the conversion of an office building in south London's Beckenham into a residential development with 75 homes.

PEL applied to Bromley Council in February for prior approval of its plans to convert the five above-ground floors of the County House office building on the Beckenham Road into a residential development with 65 one-bedroom flats and 10 two-bedroom flats. An application for full planning permission is not required for the conversion of offices to homes in most parts of England under rules introduced by the UK government in May 2013.

The Council refused PEL's application in March, due to concerns about the impact the new homes might have on local transport infrastructure, the amount of car parking provision available at the site and "the potential for dangerous manoeuvres within the adjacent public highway".

In a decision dated 8 September (3-page / 62 KB PDF), planning inspector CJ Leigh noted that, by the Council's own assessment, the site was located within an area with 'high' accessibility to public transport, finding that the site was "well-connected for modes of travel other than the private car".

The inspector said that, while there was "evidently high demand for on-street parking" in the area surrounding County House, the 76 existing car parking spaces at the site would provide adequate off-street parking for the proposed occupants of the new flats. Leigh placed "little weight" on the Council's concerns that occupants "might sell or lease their car parking spaces to people unconnected to the proposed flats" and considered that any increase in parking demand caused by allowing the appeal "would be low".

Leigh found no evidence to support the Council's concerns about access to the site or the impact of a change from its current office use on highway safety. "I have not been made aware of any past incidents or accidents concerning vehicles entering or exiting the appeal site, or using the nearby junctions," noted the inspector. While there was likely to be a change in the times at which the car park was used under the proposals, the inspector concluded that "if the existing situation has not led to incidents at times of peak traffic flow, I see no reason to expect incidents to occur at other times."