Last week the Government announced its decision to make permanent the ability for property developers to convert offices into flats without planning permission. I warned that this is a reckless policy which has already had a devastating impact on outer London, where 322 fully occupied office buildings have already been earmarked for conversion, and the housing we get is not affordable or required to meet local standards. The extended policy is even worse because it will allow property developers to demolish existing office buildings and construct residential developments in their place, all outside of the planning system.
Previously, the Mayor seemed to agree with my verdict. In September 2014, Boris promised he would “oppose this very vigorously,” promising “thermonuclear weapons will be used”. Then, last week, he responded to the announcement with a press release welcoming the policy.
Quite a change of heart.
We will find out what’s changed this morning when I ask the Mayor for an update at the beginning of Mayors Question Time. You can watch the session live from 10am here.