We don't want planning rules watered down, say Worcester council chiefs

Worcester News: Guildhall chiefs do not want planning laws watered down Guildhall chiefs do not want planning laws watered down

WORCESTER is set to reject new planning rules allowing owners of empty offices to turn them into flats - amid concerns it would damage the city’s economy.

The city council wants to “opt out” of April’s planning shake-up, with bosses saying it would have “negative economic impacts” on Worcester.

Paul O’Connor, the authority’s development services manager, says it could damage “local employment opportunities” if offices are freely turned into homes.

The Government wants to relax the rules in order to tackle the national housing crisis and estimates the policy could create an extra 130,000 properties across the country.

Any councils against the idea have until Friday to “opt out” of it, and will have their pleas considered by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

DCLG does have the right to reject the bid, but city council chiefs are currently preparing evidence to suggest why it would damage Worcester.

Mr O’Connor’s report says the move would mean the city loses “a planned approach” to where homes are located, and would create less jobs.

The report also states the city would lose out on Section 106 money - cash handouts from developers in return for agreeing planning permission which typically goes on parks, roads infrastructure or to nearby schools.

He said: “There are parts of the city where permitted development of this type could have negative impacts, particularly in relation to employment opportunities, and reduced capacity to properly deliver a planned approach.”

Councillor Marc Bayliss, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “There are lots of premises we could potentially lose and to have them turned into residential properties would not be good for Worcester’s economy.”

As your Worcester News reported last month sandwich shop owners are also against it, as a lot of trade comes from office workers.

At the moment owners of offices must apply for a ‘change of use’ to the council, which has the right to refuse it.

Worcester has around 90 unused offices at the moment, a figure which is constantly moving about.

The city council’s planning committee will debate it on Thursday

Comments (3)

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7:59pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Marrowman says...

This seems a sensible move for Worcester to me. It's tough enough getting a job in this city as it is. Since residential properties seem to make more money for developers than commercial ones, this daft ruling could see lots of offices turned into residential units, which would mean even less jobs and long commutes for Worcester people to get to work in places like Birmingham and beyond.
This seems a sensible move for Worcester to me. It's tough enough getting a job in this city as it is. Since residential properties seem to make more money for developers than commercial ones, this daft ruling could see lots of offices turned into residential units, which would mean even less jobs and long commutes for Worcester people to get to work in places like Birmingham and beyond. Marrowman

9:21pm Tue 19 Feb 13

grumpy woman says...

Seems sensible. Most of the accommodation provided by these conversions is not good and draws undesirables to the City centre.
We should be aiming for a european cafe society in Worcester. Not a no-go zone as it is in the evening at the moment.
Seems sensible. Most of the accommodation provided by these conversions is not good and draws undesirables to the City centre. We should be aiming for a european cafe society in Worcester. Not a no-go zone as it is in the evening at the moment. grumpy woman

7:34am Wed 20 Feb 13

green49 says...

I have been all in favor of turning unused offices into housing, developers are constantly building new office and commercial units so it would be no loss as such and create much needed accomodation rather that build on another green space, if it all gets taken up no on puts one back do they?
I have been all in favor of turning unused offices into housing, developers are constantly building new office and commercial units so it would be no loss as such and create much needed accomodation rather that build on another green space, if it all gets taken up no on puts one back do they? green49

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