Quarter of London’s office space at risk
A quarter of central London’s office space could be lost, if the government’s office-to-residential proposals are pushed through, according to the lead principal planner for Greater London Authority, John Left.
In his address to a London Assembly committee, Mr Left urged the government to reconsider the structuring of its proposal, saying that without exemptions, up to 4m sq ft of London’s offices could be lost under the coalition plans to convert vacant office blocks into residential apartments.
So far, the proposals have drawn criticism from every corner of the property sector, with commercial property developers, business leaders and UK politicians jointly concurring that the development of residential stock should not come at the expense of the commercial sector, and stifle latent potential for economic growth in a time of financial austerity.
One UK politician keen to shepherd central London’s prime stock from the coalition’s office-to-residential proposals is the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who has already launched a campaign to exclude the West-End, South Bank, and Canary Wharf regions. The City of London has also joined Mr Johnson’s campaign, as have 29 of London’s 32 boroughs.
Chair of the London Assembly’s planning committee, Nicky Gavron said: “There are better ways of getting new housing supply than at the expense of small businesses and much needed jobs. London may have surplus office space, but there seems a real danger that these government plans could be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
The committee pointed to the 3,400 shops currently lying in disuse in the UK’s capital, suggestive of a possible replacement as well as proposing limits on the number of betting and pawnbrokers allowed on each high street.