THE BLOG

Living on a Prayer: MPs Need to Make a Stand on Permitted Development Rights

17/07/2015 11:59 BST | Updated 16/07/2016 10:59 BST

In recent weeks, the Government has indicated it will be moving forward with far-reaching proposals to reform the planning system. 'Permitted Development Rights', as they are known, will make it easier for properties to be converted from office space to residential homes more easily.

With a clumsy policy aimed at addressing the UK's housing shortage, the Government is threatening to do serious damage to London's economy. More and more commercial tenants will be forced out of the premises they occupy to make room for residential conversion as a consequence. Landlords and developers will line their pockets as commerce in the capital takes a big hit.

I represent a Business Improvement District - Camden Town Unlimited - which has been raising awareness of the threat this presents to London's commercial tenants. Between 2013 and 2014, Camden more than 2,500 jobs have been lost as a result of conversions. That figure will rise if the Government makes it easier for developers to change the available space.

In Camden we've also found that premises most suitable for home conversion are often those accommodating creative business. Often they are also well connected, close to a local tube or Overground station, and well served by local amenities. This is the case across the capital.

We're now particularly concerned about the prospect of legislation (technically speaking a 'Statutory Instrument') being pushed through Parliament by the Government. We understand this could happen any day now.

To stop it we are calling on MPs representing London constituencies to make a stand on this issue. We've had to dust off the tomes on Parliamentary procedure to work out how to make the Government think again, but we think it can be done, and it all comes down to a prayer.

In a strange quirk of our Parliamentary system, MPs opposing this legislation have the chance to 'pray against' the legislation to increase the chances of debating it in the House of Commons. We therefore have a chance to stop the Government from sneaking these proposals through the back door.

We're asking the Government to think again on a badly thought out policy and it is our hope that it will see reason. Please do get in touch if you'd like to support this campaign.