We are acting to stop low-quality housing being built in Haringey

An aerial view of St Paul's Cathedral (centre) in central London, surrounded by cranes and office bl

Empty office blocks are being converted into residential spaces - Credit: PA Images

In 2015, the government changed the law to allow developers to convert office to residential space without having to go through the usual planning process.

This so-called "permitted development right" allows developers to turn offices into flats and then profit by renting them out or selling them, while councils are prevented from ensuring the new homes are affordable, in an appropriate location and of sufficient quality through the planning process.

With thousands of people living in temporary accommodation, often waiting years for a permanent home, Haringey is in dire need of good-quality housing at rents those in need can actually afford. This is why we are building 1,000 council homes and planning for the next 1,000 and the 1,000 after that.

Cllr Matt White, Haringey Council's new cabinet member for corporate civic services. Picture: Haring

Cllr Matt White says Article 4 Direction will allow the council to properly consider any proposed change of use from office to residential - Credit: Archant

But homes resulting from permitted development are often poor quality – sometimes created simply by erecting partitions in existing office spaces, even across windows – and are not the good-quality homes those in need in Haringey require.

So, this week, Haringey Council is acting to stop this proliferation of low-quality housing in our town centres and the associated loss of much-needed office space.

We are doing this by confirming our Article 4 Direction, which was consulted on last year. This will prevent change of use from office to residential without planning permission in some areas of the borough, mostly town centres.

Unfortunately, the government is changing the law once more, despite objections from many local authorities including Haringey, and has recently confirmed a permitted development right for the new "Class E", covering both office and commercial use, including shops.

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However, our Article 4 Direction will allow the council to properly consider any proposed change of use from office to residential for the next year, while transitional arrangements are in place.

Cllr Matt White (Lab, Bruce Grove) is Haringey's cabinet member for planning and corporate services.