Lots of companies rely on office space to rent in London. The English capital is a business centre and having premises in the city can be a must for organisations. However, the number of offices available to small to medium-sized enterprises has been cut because of the high demand for residential premises. Some developers have been taking commercial buildings and transforming them into residential blocks.
Recognising the possible problems associated with this trend, Westminster Council has revealed it is to crack down on property developers’ plans to build more luxury flats in the central London area, the London Evening Standard reports. The newspaper noted that the number of applications to convert offices to homes has risen over recent years, with 120 premises granted in Westminster over the last year, compared with 66 in 2008-09.
Speaking to the publication, strategic director for the Built Environment at Westminster Rosemarie MacQueen remarked: “We are very concerned about maintaining a mix and balance of uses and the recent increase in the number of planning applications and interest in changing office accommodation to residential has necessitated a review of our approach. “In particular, we need to protect the small scale, low value building stock that is the optimum home to SMEs but also unfortunately is the kind of building stock that lends itself to conversion to residential use.”
Also commenting on the issue, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) John Walker said: “The FSB is grateful that Westminster is taking this situation seriously and we support efforts to keep small businesses in central London instead of replacing them with flats.” Without the right serviced offices and other premises to operate from, companies can struggle to achieve their goals so it is no surprise that the issue of commercial property transformation is being taken seriously.