Westminster Council has plans to crack down on luxury residential property developers, it emerged today.
The council is worried that the high-end residences are making the area unaffordable for smaller and medium-sized companies as developers are converting office space into expensive residential homes.
The need for such properties has spiked recently as overseas investors seek “safe havens” from financial storms brewing in Europe and elsewhere. The number of applications to convert offices to homes has almost doubled from 66 in 1009/2009 to 120 last year. But Westminster Council is now set to review its planning permission.
“We are very concerned about maintaining a mix and balance of uses and the recent increase in the number of planning applications and interest in changing office accommodation to residential has necessitated a review of our approach,” Rosemarie MacQueen, strategic director for the built environment at Westminster, told the London Evening Standard.
“In particular, we need to protect the small scale, low value, building stock that is the optimum home to SMEs but also unfortunately is the kind of building stock that lends itself to conversion to residential use.”
The Westminster position contrasts to the government’s plans to deregulate construction rules to encourage building in the UK. The council is set to finalise its review in the next few months.
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