Unregulated office-to-resi conversions will hit London’s economy, warns Khan

The new mayor of London is to amend the London Plan in a bid to protect office space from being lost to residential.

Sadiq Khan said he was particularly concerned about space for small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs – the kind of units often required by architects.

New figures from City Hall suggest more than 1.47 million sq m of office space has been lost in the capital since 2013 under permitted development rights which were introduced to allow office-to-resi conversions without planning permission.

Khan’s staff estimated that space could support 94,000 jobs.

Khan said: “These new figures lay bare the impact that the government’s misguided policies are having on space for business in London. Of course we need new homes, but this does not need to be at the expense of the space we need for the businesses that provide our jobs and drive our prosperity. 

“Space which is genuinely surplus to commercial needs should be identified authoritatively and its release carefully managed so that it does not undermine local business. 

“As mayor, I will be focusing on building new affordable homes on publicly and privately owned brownfield land, while changing the London Plan in order to protect viable business space and to create new start-up spaces in housing developments.

“There clearly needs to be more control over where office space can be converted to residential use.”

He promised to

  • Amend the London Plan so there is stronger protection for small business and start-up workspace
  • Deliver new spaces for small businesses, the creative industries, artists and the fashion industry within new residential and mixed-use developments
  • Promote schemes to provide linked affordable housing and business space in new housing developments
  • Work with the government on changes to permitted development rights