Westminster: Article 4 Direction for the protection of office space

Permitted Development in Westminster after May 2019

Permitted development rights were introduced by the government in an attempt to meet the demand for housing. The temporary measure has become permanent and Boroughs typically have to introduce Article 4 Direction to exclude areas from this. Until the updated protection, former offices like Reed House and Riverwalk House have been converted into housing with no affordable provision.

Westminster benefitted from having a Borough wide protection via a zonal protection. After the 31st May 2019, this will no longer automatically apply.

Westminster City Council stated that over 300,000 square feet of office space were redeveloped or converted to residential properties during the last four years, with some of them providing luxury flats without affordable housing. In an attempt to protect the office space, the Council will introduce an Article 4 Direction under the revised Plan to ensure that full planning applications will required so each case will be assessed separately based on all relevant issues. The council aims to strike a balance between housing and professional space for businesses to operate especially now with the opening of the Elizabeth Line.  

Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for planning and public realm at the council said: “We are committed to ensuring the right kind of growth in Westminster (…) We have experienced a rapid loss of office space in Westminster. It’s a worrying trend. Not only does this change the character and feel of our communities but our reputation as political and professional centre relies upon maintaining the office spaces which allow business to flourish”.


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