Harlow Labour pledge to carry on fight against converted office blocks
News / Tue 30th Jun 2020 at 02:46pm
HARLOW Labour pledge to carry on the fight against converted office blocks as most senior Tory advisor says he will ‘take axe to planning law’ and Housing and Communities Secretary is mired in scandal.
HARLOW Labour have reaffirmed their pledge to keep fighting for changes in planning laws to put an end to office block conversions like Terminus House.
This comes as it was revealed in both the Times and the Telegraph that Dominic Cummings told the Tory cabinet he intends to overhaul planning legislation completely.
A situation that has been complicated further by the Westferry scandal surrounding the Housing and Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick.
Harlow Labour Council Leader Mark Ingall said: “I am extremely concerned by Dominic Cummings’ comments about planning legislation and what it could mean for Harlow.
“The last time the Tories ‘took an axe’ to planning legislation, they paved the way for big business to convert old office blocks into temporary housing without having to apply for planning permission from local councils.
“In Harlow we have witnessed the effects of this, with developments like Terminus House where whole families are living in rooms measuring 18 square metres – nowhere near the recommended guidelines on living space for one person.
“As a local party we have campaigned very hard for reform of permitted development rights and before the lockdown had forced a debate in Parliament on the issue.
“It now seems that despite warm platitudes from the Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick when he visited Harlow last October and from Robert Halfon during the General Election – restoring planning regulation is off the table.
“Indeed Robert Jenrick’s intervention in Tower Hamlets to help a Tory Donor save millions in levies to the local council – highlights this government’s disregard for the rules that already exist. As we saw during the lockdown, the Tories believe it is one rule for them and another for the rest of us.
“We will continue to stand up for Harlow. We will fight for reform of permitted development rights, against further office block conversions in Harlow and against any repeals of planning legislation.”
Alex said today, planning rules would be changed by September to allow: • Developers to “demolish and rebuild” vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes. • A wider range of commercial buildings to be switched to housing without a planning application. • Property owners to build “additional space above their properties”, via a “fast track approval process”. So that is basically more commercial buildings being converted to sub-standard flats, being used to house the most vulnerable while buiding owners profit off the state. I wonder how RH will vote on this when the time comes, given his past comments on the likes of Terminus House?
Depends on which way you look at it, if Mr Ingall and his team had blocked these conversions earlier, these monstrosities could never have taken place.