FromTheMurkyDepths

Housing and Development in London

Bexleyheath

Plan approved to convert Bexleyheath job centre into 47 flats

Whilst looking at plans for 25 flats at Brampton Road in Bexleyheath I spotted plans to convert two nearby office buildings in Bexleyheath. One is to convert 47 flats at the Jobcentre with another conversion planned just along the road for 18 flats at Broadway House. Both have just been approved.

Developers London Green purchased the site in March 2017. Here’s the planning description for the Jobcentre:

“Proposed change of use of a building from Office Use (Class B1(a)) to Residential use (Class C3) to provide 47 self contained units of accommodation comprising 1 on the ground floor, 20 on each of the first and second floors and 6 on the third floor. | Westminster House 186 – 194 Broadway Bexleyheath Kent DA6 7BB”

The planning reference is: 17/00988/PRIOR

The odd thing is the Department for Work and Pensions don’t mention it for disposal in a list released in January 2017 yet London Green say they purchased the site in March. Was it on an earlier list? Then again the DWP also have Woolwich down as being retained yet plans were submitted for a conversion to housing before Greenwich Council themselves announced they would purchase the site, with the council believed to want it for their own office space.

The other site, Broadway House, as seen above, has this description:

“Prior notification for the proposed change of use from Office Use (Class B1(a) on the first and second floors to provide 18 residential units (Class C3) comprising 2 x 2 bed and 16 x 1 bed self contained flats including provision of car parking and secure cycle parking. | Broadway House Trinity Place Bexleyheath Kent DA6 7AYnd”

The planning reference here is 17/00967/PRIOR 

Permitted development

Changing the use of offices to housing through permitted development rights became much easier in 2013, with 10% of “new” housing now through such conversions. These schemes do not need planning permission – with developers only needing to pay the base planning permission fee to councils (often around £80) to give notification. They do not need to include any affordable housing.

The only way local councils can stop changes is to enact “Article 4” directions – which is not easy to enact for this purpose, especially in suburban locations.

External changes do still need planning permission. It’s unclear whether the Jobcentre conversion will now proceed without the external changes seen at the top of this page.

Permitted development rights introduced in 2013 were initially temporary but were made permanent by central government in 2016. Next up is automatic permitted rights to convert industrial units to housing, which begins in October 2017.

The change has divided opinion. It’s a quick way to ensure more desperately needed housing is provided as new home building reached the lowest it’s been for the past 100+ years (excluding WW1 and WW2) over the past two decades, reaching a pitiful nadir in recent years of a third of the levels Britain was building just a few short years after World War 2 with post-war austerity and rationing still in full swing. Yet is converting offices, and imminently industrial units, a clear sign of failure to provide high quality purpose built homes?

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. The covering letter on the planning portal says the Job centre is excluded from the application. It is the rear of the building and the upper floors

    • Thanks. I think there may be more to it than that in the future. This app is like a first step and seeking permitted rights. Then they could move on to wider plans with the building hence the renders by developers showing re-cladding the front and a more serious re-work than the permitted rights application.

  2. CDT

    Looking at the artist impression the main Job Centre entrance as been turned in to retail/restaurant space. The main Job Cente staff are currently located on the first and second floors of Westminster House. Eltham, Lewisham and Brixton Job Centres are all closing by the end of 2017. All sites have planning permission in place very similar to those proposed for Bexleyheath Job Centre at Westminster House.

    I guess it is a case of just wait and see.

  3. CDT

    The Job Centre use the whole of the building with commercial space and 47 flats really cannot see the Job Centre remaining on the site. It would have to close anyway while the re-development takes place due to health and safety issues. So I can see the Job Centre being re-located elsewhere in London Borough of Bexley.

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