Harlow Council set to get tough over office to flats conversions in Templefields

News / Tue 3rd Jul 2018 at 03:10pm

HARLOW Council has commenced a process to protect business premises in Templefields.

Notices have been posted in the area and sent to individual businesses formally notifying them of the Council’s intention to seek what is known as an Article 4 Direction, which makes it harder for properties to be converted to residential use.

A few years ago, the Government introduced national legislation to speed up the number of new homes being developed. Broadly, this included the ability for landowners to convert commercial and industrial properties into residential accommodation without the usual need to obtain planning permission – this is known as Permitted Development.

Whilst in some areas this may be welcome where there are unused buildings in appropriate locations for people to live, Harlow Council is concerned that this legislation may lead to a reduction of business premises at a time when the Council is concerned to increase levels of employment in the town. Also, the Council is not of the opinion that the Templefields area would be a suitable residential area and that it should be protected for business use only.

Accordingly, a process has commenced that is designed to ensure this. The Council has to consult with the affected landowners and occupiers of business premises before making a formal application to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide an exemption from the legislation for the Templefields area.

In practice, this will mean that there is no automatic right for landowners to convert business premises into residential accommodation. Instead, a landowner would have to go through the normal full planning application process – a process over which the Council has greater control.

The consultation process will run until 26th July 2018, following which the Council will have to consider the content of any comments made, before the formal application is made. The Council then envisages that the Order will come into effect from 24th August 2018, hopefully providing greater protection for business premises in Templefields.

Further information can be obtained from Harlow Council’s Project Director for the Enterprise Zone, Andrew Bramidge – [email protected] and 01279 446410.

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6 Comments for Harlow Council set to get tough over office to flats conversions in Templefields:

Brett Hawksbee
2018-07-03 15:43:23

This could not be more welcome. It is an absolute travesty. Most commercial buildings in Harlow are singularly unsuitable for residential conversion, either by design, or location, or both. 'Homes' are not boxes we put people in with no regard to their environment/surroundings. Homes are, or should be in 'communities'. Harlow was designed with green spaces, playing fields, parks, community centres ... so that people might live a richer life. This legislation might have a place in city centre aspirational 'loft' apartments, in disused mills and wharfs; such buildings were once part of the living heart of urban communities ... but the building stock, and general environment of Harlow's 'Industrial Estates' are an entirely inferior proposition for providing homes.

2018-07-03 21:36:55

How come it took the Council so long to do this. The best part of 1000 flats have been created by converting offices in the town. Better late than never.

2018-07-04 06:57:12

Finally! London authorities are using these developments as a dumping ground for their waiting lists.

2018-07-04 12:14:33

Time to look at the Pinnacles as well then with the development of offices in Greenway.

2018-07-05 20:02:41

Since it's inception in January this year the Harlow Alliance Party have expressed concerns about the rush to convert offices into residential accommodation, which in the main are wholly unsuitable for such purpose.. Harlow Council have placed a public notice in the Harlow Star on the 5th July in an attempt to stop inappropriate conversion of industrial or office premises to flats in the Templefield area. Whilst we feel it’s correct to stop these poorly located and substandard residential conversions we are unsure this action will deter further development. Owners can still apply for planning permission and even if the council decide to refuse it, the applicant can appeal and undoubtedly win due to government pressure to comply with their directive. The council could also end up with having to pay costs. Far better action would be to send a letter of protest to stop the poor legislation which allows such conversions to Robert Halfon and the Minister for Housing, Communities & Local Government and even the Prime Minister herself to withdraw the permitted development directive. It has already been muted that the government are considering withdrawing this and the more pressure that is applied may result in this happening. Such action would then effect all offices and industrial areas including the Pinnacles and give back the council control using planning legislation. Alan Leverett Harlow Alliance Party

Brett Hawksbee
2018-07-06 11:45:46

I tend to agree with Alan Leverett on some aspects ... However by forcing developers to seek planning permission, their proposal would need to be shown to be in line with the development plan and other planning policy. An appeal win is by no means a foregone conclusion. It seems somewhat inconsistent to suggest both that an appellant would 'definitely win', and simultaneously comment that the government are already having second thoughts about the legislation in toto., Also, this directive may not be immediately possible; a delayed imposition of an article 4 directive might be necessary to avoid any compensation claims if conversion work is currently under way (or in late planning stages) Whether such developments are or may be 'sub standard' is moot... the entire environment is in most cases completely unfitting.

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