Council set to consult on Article 4 Direction
The council is taking steps to protect employment space in the borough, with Cabinet set to agree to consult on issuing an Article 4 Direction.
The Article 4 Direction would cover the most strategically important office sites in the borough, removing permitted development rights that currently allow office buildings to be converted for residential use without planning permission.
The sites protected would include:
- Welwyn Garden City employment area
- Hatfield Business Park (including Bishop Square)
- Beaconsfield Road / Great North Road in Hatfield
- Sopers Road Industrial Estate in Cuffley
It follows a number of concerns raised by the council about the amount of employment space lost, with some 27,000sqm of office space in Welwyn Hatfield converted for residential use since 2013.
The report to Cabinet also outlines how office to residential conversions do not require the development to provide affordable housing, or the Section 106 contributions usually agreed through the planning process towards infrastructure, education and healthcare.
Councillor Stephen Boulton, Executive Member for Planning, said:
We all understand that we need new homes, but we must find a balance between delivering new housing and its impact on our business and wider community.
We're really fortunate to have such a buoyant local economy and for it to continue to grow and create new jobs, we need to retain good quality employment space for all sizes and types of business.