Premier House: stop new planning rules that damage local business

Barnet’s Labour Councillors have called for a council meeting debate against permitted development rights that allow office blocks to be turned into residential flats without any planning permission, and consequently without any protection or wider benefits to the local community.

Up to 150 businesses and charities that employ around 700 people based in Premier House, Edgware, were given just 4 weeks notice to quit the building after the landlord decided to develop the property for luxury residential accommodation. This decision was made without the need for planning permission after the government relaxed planning rules to extend ‘permitted development rights’.

The government are now consulting on making this change to planning rules permanent, and Labour councillors believe the council should oppose this move in response to the consultation which closes on 26 September.

The extension of permitted development rights means the council cannot secure any affordable housing, community infrastructure levy, new homes bonus, or Section 106 contributions to meet pressure on health, education and other services that result from more homes being built. The council also cannot apply conditions that mitigate the impact of these developments on neighbours.

Labour councillors also believe that these types of developments could result in a net loss of revenue to the council in business rates even when any future council tax collected from the developments are taken into account.

3,175 businesses failed in Barnet in 2012 – the last recorded data – and despite 2,995 new business start-ups in the same year, only 53% of new businesses survive more than 3 years.

Barnet has a higher number of business fails compared with the London average, and the council are currently consulting on ways to support local businesses in Barnet.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Dan Thomas made the following statement when the Council published their consultation on helping local businesses: “Councils cannot wave a magic wand and transform the economy, but we can work to make sure the whole public sector is working with business in mind, in part by minimising red tape and stepping out of the way.

Cllr Adam Langleben (Labour, West Hendon), believes the relaxation of planning rules is set to make these statistics on business failures much worse.

Cllr Langleben, who has submitted a motion on permitted development rights to next week’s Full Council meeting, said: “If the Barnet Tories are serious about helping local businesses they must support our motion and lobby the government to stop the permanent extension of these planning rules.

"This is not an issue where “minimising red tape and stepping out of the way” will help support businesses. It is true that “council’s cannot wave a magic wand” but they can do something to try and help, and if Cllr Thomas is serious about making sure “the whole public sector is working with business in mind” he can ask his Group to vote for my motion.

"If anything, the relaxation of permitted development rights "cuts red tape" and waves a magic pound shape wand for big business and developers rather than the small businesses which are crucial to the future of our borough, city and country."

Notes:

1.         Details of Cllr Langleben’s motion can be found here: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s17831/Councillor%20Adam%20Langelben%20-%20Permitted%20Development%20Rights.pdf

2.         Details of Cllr Thomas’ comments and the council’s consultation can be found here: http://www.barnet.gov.uk/news/article/587/consultation_launched_on_ways_to_support_barnet_businesses

3.         For more information about Premier House see:

http://www.andrewdismore.org.uk/home/2014/07/25/letter-for-publication-premier-house/

http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/News.cfm?id=24611&headline=Businesses%20out%20on%20their%20ear%20for%20housing%20development

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For further details please contact:

Cllr Adam Langleben: 07920 409 072

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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