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DCLG 'error' admission may stall borough's legal action

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A London borough may drop a threatened judicial review after it said the Department for Communities & Local Government admitted to an error.

Islington LBC had threatened legal action over the department’s rejection of a measure to limit areas where offices may be converted to homes without the need for further planning consent.

The dispute turned on how the department calculated the number of new homes in Islington.

Since last year, conversions of offices to residential use without new planning permission have been allowed, in a move by the government to encourage the supply of new housing.

Islington imposed an ‘article 4 direction’ – a local measure to disapply the automatic ‘office to residential’ conversion rule – arguing that it would otherwise lose essential employment space.

But this needed government consent and was rejected by then planning minister Nick Boles, who said Islington had missed its housing targets.

The council argued that it had exceeded its overall target by 43% and the DCLG had failed to consider all types of housing

An Islington statement said the council was now “optimistic that a compromise can be reached with the government on halting unrestricted office-to-flats conversion in the borough, after the DCLG conceded the error”.

The DCLG said in a statement that it intended to annul Mr Boles’ rejection of Islington’s Article 4 direction and would offer the council “the opportunity to make further representations on the merits of its Article 4 direction”.

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis added: “We are happy to have a dialogue with the council on these issues, but we have been clear about the real need for more homes, especially in London.

“However, Islington council are out of touch if they think more one-bedroom and studio flats in central London for young people are a bad thing.”



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