Barnet is the latest area in London seen to be suffering from the damaging Permitted Development Rights policy. Since the government relaxed planning regulations, valuable workspaces have been converted in to lucrative residential homes. Whilst it was intended to alleviate the housing crisis, we are now facing a chronic shortage of affordable workspace as supply decreases.
Now, plans for the conversion of Barnet House show that 96% of the proposed flats will be smaller than the national minimum space standard for a single person – 37 sq metres.
Local residents have labelled the Barnet scheme “ridiculous” and “immoral”, comparing the planned homes to dog kennels.
Graeme Brown, interim chief executive of Shelter, said: “In theory, converting offices sounds like a good way of creating some of the homes we need in a time of crisis. But in reality, it’s often used by developers as a way of cashing in on people’s desperation by building unaffordable, rabbit-hutch homes.
As we have seen in Camden Town, permitted development rights have made a lot of money for developers – without benefiting the surround business or residential communities. We lost Carlow House to the policy, which resulted in turfing out major creative businesses and our own Collective coworking space. The high street felt the loss, and in place of a hub of innovative organisations now stands a block of high-end luxury flats. Who’s the winner here?
Read the Guardian’s coverage of the new plans for Barnet here.