Update: campaign against relaxation of planning regulations – office to residential
15 May 2013

Outcomes and information

Planning relaxation to affect future of employment space.

17 London boroughs are to be granted partial exemptions from planning relaxation, protecting areas in their boroughs of key commercial activity. These exemptions in limited areas will protect workspace from being turned into homes without planning permission.

For details of the legislation go to: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/1101/made

For maps of areas which have secured exemptions click here.

Successful campaigning by SPACE, with strong support from local businesses and our local MP Meg Hillier, has helped protect areas around Shoreditch and Hoxton, Dalston and Hackney Central, which play host to a wide range of businesses including digital and creative industries. Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, said: “We are pleased to have been granted these exemptions and will continue to protect space for local employment.”

Outside of the exempted areas, the new government rules which come into play on 30th May will put at risk small independent businesses who need affordable space, as former employment space is more likely to be converted into high-value private flats. This could force businesses out, contribute to unemployment and damage local economies. It is likely that any homes created as a result will be high-value private properties and do nothing to address the need for affordable housing.

Although the legislation references B1a office use, there is already scope to change from B2 (General Industry) to B1 and B8 (Storage) to B1 without permission. This creates a bigger potential impact - in theory someone could change from B2 to B1 without permission. Once they have established a B1 use under the new provisions they could change the use again to residential a short while later also without permission. 


While SPACE is still very concerned about the impact this planning relaxation has on non-exempted areas, thank you for supporting the campaign and contributing to this partial success.