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Call for more offices to be converted to homes

Cluttons estate agents have called for it to be easier for empty office space to be converted to housing.

Malcolm Chumbley, their head of UK development at the estate agent, tells The Guardian he will write to communities secretary Eric Pickles to stop councils having the power to veto such changes.

Chumbley says:

"In many parts of the country, the need for residential property severely outweighs requirements for offices. This situation needs to be acknowledged."

Last year around 3% of new homes came about through office conversions. It is estimated that if all 250,000 long term empty offices were converted that could provide 250,000 more homes.George Osborne wants it made easier but is facing resistance from some in local government.

I wonder if some Labour councils have a political motive in seeking to thwart such conversions. The new homes will tend to be for market housing rather than social housing. It is similar to such councils wanting to scupper change of use applications to allow free schools. They would prefer to have a derelict site than new schools or homes beyond municipal control. Their electoral calculation is that the higher the ratio of state supplicants the better Labour's electoral prospects.


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