Office to housing conversion analysis makes for worrying reading

February 16, 2015 12:00 AM

An analysis of office to housing conversions not needing planning permission
undertaken by WHBC's planners makes for worrying reading. In just 18 months,
over 18,000 square metres of office space has been lost - around 1800 job
spaces. Add in the planned Xerox site and it becomes 35,000 square metres -
around 3500 jobs. All in just 18 months.

'Of course many of these might have been granted permission, but that
permission would have been accompanied by checking there was adequate
parking, amenity space for families, and some contribution towards school
places and infrastructure ' said LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan.

'Already planners are talking about having to replace this employment land,
perhaps in the Green Belt.'

'In a town built on the principle of keeping jobs and homes apart, this is a
worrying trend that in a few years could wipe out much of our office space.
Homes are usually worth more than offices, so the incentive to keep
converting is there, particularly when there are minimal checks or
restrictions.

I hope that now the evidence is piling up, Grant Shapps will see that the
effects on Welwyn Hatfield demand a change in policy.