In recent years Town Planning rules have been relaxed in many respects.

One of the most controversial issues has been the opening up of Permitted Development to convert offices and light industrial space to residential use.

Some commentators suggest this creates opportunities to reduce the dire housing shortage. On the other hand, traditional planning policy aimed to retain employment use on business space.

Day and Bell has been involved with a number of development schemes where office buildings are now apartments and industrial properties have become houses. The changing nature of commerce meant that that there was less requirement for offices in north London, but there are so few buildings remaining that occupiers struggle to find suitable premises. For industrial buildings, the situation is much worse, as manufacturing or storage and distribution businesses cannot find any suitable premises in many London suburbs.

Ultimately Permitted Development has created more sleepy suburbs, with less vibrancy and fewer employees visiting the shops at lunch time – providing further challenges to the vitality of High Streets.

London Borough of Barnet is looking at introducing an Article 4 Direction, where the Permitted Development in the Borough will be stopped. This restriction has been introduced in a number of other Council areas and it may help balance the future use of remaining business space, with housing.

On the other hand the reintroduction of intervention in the property market may seems at odds with the strongly Conservative doctrine of Barnet Councillors, who have privatised most services.

Day and Bell will follow the consultation and others may contribute on https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/ (when Barnet Council place it there). The deadline for comments is 12th November.