Boris Johnson looks to exempt central London from offices to resi plan


Boris Johnson is set to push forward with proposals to make central London exempt from a new office to residential scheme the government is looking to put into place.

The changes, which were agreed upon last month, would allow owners of London offices to convert their offices into homes without planning permission.

Eric Pickles confirmed that these plans would definitely be coming into effect soon, with local planning authorities having until the end of next week (February 22) to apply for an exemption – although the government has suggested that these will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, had originally discussed the possibility of changes to the regulations two years ago, but aside from a number of planning laws being slightly amended, no definitive action has been taken up until now.

London deputy mayor for planning, Sir Edward Lister, said: “We are worried about the central activities zone, which is the core of commercial operations in London. The new rules could drive offices out of Mayfair if we are not careful.”

The zone Sir Lister describes covers a number of areas including the City of London, Westminster and Kensington among others.

The City of London in particular had already voiced fierce resistance to the planned changes, with the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, Mark Field, pushing for the area to be made exempt from them.

He identified a number of reasons for his opposition to the proposals, including the risk that key landmark buildings in the area could end up as flats.

Outside of the central activities zone however, Sir Lister suggested Major Johnson was more relaxed over the new rules.

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