Leeds loses out on £1m in legal change

HOME: South Parade in Leeds is one of the locations for office to residential conversion.
HOME: South Parade in Leeds is one of the locations for office to residential conversion.
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Leeds has lost out on a potential £1m because of legislation which allows offices to be turned into residential use without the need for planning permission.

The findings come from research by University College London which assessed five cities to gauge the extent of schemes that have proceeded under permitted development and the implications on revenues for local authorities and local communities.

Since the new rules for permitted developments were introduced in 2013, the research has estimated that the contributions Leeds City Council would have secured through approvals and planning applications is £745,127. The potential loss of affordable housing could be 31 units and the loss of section 106 contributions could be at least £353,498.

While the report found office to residential has not been as contentious in Leeds as other cities studied (Camden, Croydon, Leicester and Reading) and that there was support for it, especially in terms of student accommodation, it says there is “little or no family housing” and on the outskirts of the city centre, developments were “a concern” due to poor space standards and amenities for residents.

Dr Ben Clifford, senior lecturer at UCL, said: “The idea of reusing vacant office space as housing is a good one. The way this is currently governed as ‘permitted development’ in England is highly problematic. Whilst we saw some high quality conversions of office to residential during our detailed case study research, we also saw many other examples of very poor quality housing.”

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