Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Lambeth launches legal challenge against office-to-home conversion rights

Out-Law News | 20 Aug 2013 | 12:54 pm | 1 min. read

The London Borough of Lambeth has filed an application for judicial review of the Government's decision not to exempt certain areas in the borough from recently introduced rights allowing offices to be transformed into homes without planning permission.

The Council said in a statement that it had filed judicial review papers on the Secretary of State, highlighting its concerns that there was a lack of transparency around deciding which areas to exempt from the new rights.

The new permitted development rights came into force on 30 May. Areas within 17 local authorities were granted exemption from the rights following an application procedure, including the Central Activities Zone (CAZ) and Tech City in London, as well as areas in the Isle of Dogs and the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone.

Lambeth had applied for a number of areas, including Brixton town centre and Streatham town centre, to be granted exemption from the rules. However, it was granted exemption only in the parts of the borough around Waterloo and Vauxhall which fall within the CAZ.

The Council said it was "impossible" to understand how the Government had decided to exempt residential areas in places including Kensington and Chelsea, while "ignoring the value" to the local economy of Brixton and Streatham.

“Landlords in Brixton and Streatham have been handed a free reign to turn offices into flats – it’s simply unacceptable," said the Council's cabinet member for housing and regeneration Pete Robbins. “The new regulations could harm trade in these key areas and raise the prospect of job losses, lost business rates and reduced funding for infrastructure.”

The application is the second legal challenge to the new rights. It follows an application for judicial review submitted by the London boroughs of Islington, Richmond, Sutton and Tower Hamlets last month.

Lambeth said it was waiting to hear back from the Government's solicitors on the filed papers.