In 2013, the government brought in a three-year scheme that enabled landlords of office space to convert it to residential usage without needing permission from Council. Within the Beckenham area, this change hasn’t always been used to benefit the local community. With proposals to make the change permanent, local residents need to highlight any concerns they have.
These permitted development rights were designed to increase the supply of new homes. However, in many instances, they’ve been used by landlords to boost their returns. In Beckenham, house prices and rental values are increasing faster than those of office locations. This has resulted in many businesses losing out as landlords change to residential usage purely for their own benefit.
Changing the local landscape
Since the changes were brought in, 13 locations around Beckenham High Street have been converted to residential usage or are currently undergoing such a conversion. Some office spaces are even being changed despite already being full of businesses. Some local firms are being forced to move away from the High Street, which is altering the make-up of the area. This is particularly impacting independent and local businesses.
The government is proposing that this change be made permanent. If you feel strongly about this, you can have your say by contacting Bob Stewart, the MP for Beckenham and West Wickham.
Has your business been affected by the change to permitted development rights? How do you think the government could better improve the supply of housing stock?