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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

RECYCLING EMPTY OFFICE BUILDINGS

Councils never stop moaning about lack of housing so the Dame applauds and 'celebrates' Planning Minister, Nick Boles's move to allow conversion of empty offices to residential without planning permission. 
20% of office space in urban areas remains empty so how logical to convert it to productive residential use.
The legislation will be enacted in Spring.
The only contraints will be where there is significant transport or highway impact, flood risks or land contamination or where external works are required.
Exemptions will be granted if councils prove overriding issues requiring planning control.
AN EMPTY OFFICE BLOCK
In K& C there are huge pressures on housing stocks so this must be good news.
Let's hope councillors stand up to Mr Bore and ensure that our Council doesn't  seek an exemption. Were it to do so it would be a slap in the face for those trying desperately to get on the housing ladder.
The City of London is a special case for an exemption to the legislation-K&C is not.

  


18 comments:

  1. If Mr Bore's Planning Committee tries to block this great initiative it will anger younger voters in the Borough desperate to find somewhere to live.
    Imagine the boost to housing stocks by this simple expedient.
    Cllr Ahern get behind this please

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    1. Mr Bore will do nothing for the benefit of residents. A rotten apple.

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  2. I understand that the Council has already applied for an exemption

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  3. Yes, Owl they have and hopefully it will be rejected on the most sensible of grounds.

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  4. I hear that Joan Hanham has been dragooned into supporting K&C's bid for exemption

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    1. This old trout should not be taking part in anything to do with contemporary K&C

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  5. I hate to disagree but the proposed changes will not achieve what people are hoping for. Kensington and Chelsea is unusual in that the value of luxury housing is so much greater than offices. The temptation for landlords will be to transform existing offices into more luxury housing. Like the current stock most of it is likely to be sold ‘off plan’ to overseas investors, many of them in the Far East, who are looking for a safe home for hot money. Increasingly whole blocks in the Borough are used for only a week or two in the year and are otherwise empty. This is draining the life out of whole areas of the Borough. Section 106 agreements will not apply to these changes from office to residential, so the hoped for increase in affordable accommodation for the young and less well off will simply not happen. If more modest housing is created then again the lack of Section 106 agreements will put a strain on the infrastructure, schools, surgeries and public buildings.

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    1. Funny how the cogent arguments and logic get deployed by the Council when it suits them. But when the order goes out to drive a bulldozer through opposition (like it did with the Opera Holland Park tent when the Planning Department tried to sneak through the most ghastly travesty)then the system does what it wants.

      For a change, councillors and officers should listen to residents. We need starter homes for young people and workers. Homes will be cheaper if they start with office buildings that are converted. Get it? Of course we don't want more expensive empty homes with foreign owners (plenty of palm greasing possible there) so use your brains and find a way.

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  6. Officer is talking his book. This change will mean less work and power for officers so they will resist it. Hot overseas money wil not be looking for a home in some of the northern areas of the Borough where there is a proliferation of office accommodation. It is in these areas where there is an opportunity to provide low cost starter homes. The sort of international buyers who invest in the south of the Borough will NOT be interested in fringe areas of the Borough.
    Well done Boles......this is a good move

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    1. In the nicest possible way, what are you smoking 16:00? Get real, the offices that will change to residential are in the Centre and South of the Borough and many of them will not be empty until the occupants are kicked out. Jobs lost and more pads for the absent investors. Real Tory stuff.

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  7. No they won't. Offices in the centre and south of the Borough are fully let at rates giving yields of 4-5%....greater than residential yields so there will little reason to convert. This is not the case in the north where there is substantial empty and untenanted space....but then we don't expect much profundity of commercial expertise from a LIbdem voter!

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    1. Chartered Surveyor30 January 2013 at 21:25

      If only it were that simple. Even on the basis of the ambitious yields quoted by Anon 18:50 the offices have a capital value (taking into account passing rents, net to gross areas and deductions for sale expenses) of about £650 to £950 per square foot. Residential conversions in good areas would have capital values of nearly double. Residential net yields would be little different. It is a no brainer to convert offices to residential to take advantage of the higher capital values.

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    2. Yes, but Chartered Surveyor....accepting your technical arguments would you not agree that the conversion of redundant/empty office space in the fringes of the Borough would provide increase affordable housing stock? After all, if it empty better that is available for housing

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  8. The gist here seems to be to apply for an exemption in the South and Central area of K&C and allow/encourage the conversions from office to residential in North Kensington. The planners can target buildings that would attract buyers for homes that would in turn provide workers for some of the empty office buildings.

    Is this train of thought too simplistic?

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  9. Where on earth are all these empty office blocks in the north of the borough? I don't know of any at all.

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  10. Not necessarily office blocks in the north, but small office units which would convert well. There are masses in the north tucked away in side streets. Ast the business rates dept

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  11. Before 2010 the Council had no policy to stop the conversion of offices to housing - in the previous decade we lost 30,000sqm ((330,000sq ft) of small offices alone - enough to provide workspace for 2,500 to 3,000 people. As a local economy with over 80% of businesses employing less than 5 people this represented a major loss. As a result there are very few vacant small offices.

    We have also lost some very large offices for demolition for new housing, like Charles House in Kensington High Street (50,000sqm) mainly luxury housing for an overseas market, Kingsgate House in King's Road (which will be affordable housing for the De Vere Gardens super-luxury scheme) and 205 Holland Park Avenue.

    Most of the contributors seem unaware that vacancy rates for offices in this Borough are extremely low and instead of converting vacant offices to affordable housing what we are likely to get is more super-prime housing for people for whom these are not their primary residence - it is probably part of portfolio of homes around the world and they would not occupy their London ""home" for more than a month or two a year.

    Get real before you hand everything over too the housing developers. There will be no affordable housing - with the Government's latest initiative no planning consent is required and no affordable housing can be sought - and none will be given!

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