Ben Habib argues it should be easier to convert offices into flats (‘We can ramp up housebuilding by turning offices into flats – if the planners let us', 2 April).
When the “offices-to-resi” idea was originally mooted, ministers said it was a good idea to turn “vacant” offices into a useful purpose. However there is no requirement for premises to be vacant in order to be converted. If the policy is retained for good, there is a risk that income generating activities which require low rent properties will be cleared out of high value areas altogether. Tech City has been spared this measure in recognition of its value to the economy. But it only arose there due to low rents. Will we kill off the next emerging innovation quarter through keeping this measure?
Head of Policy, Practice and Research