Planning rules to protect local businesses and launderettes

High Street

New planning rules will stop private developers changing businesses, warehouses and launderettes into unaffordable homes.

Called an Article 4 Direction, the borough’s start-up light industrial spaces, including small breweries, design studios and its 14 remaining launderettes, will be protected by forcing developers to apply for planning permission first before they can change the use of a business premises.

The new planning rules, approved at Cabinet on Monday (27 March), will help retain new and established businesses, vital for local communities, jobs, the maker economy and the borough’s reputation as the centre for entrepreneurs.

The measures also recognise the important role launderettes play for local communities, used by residents on a low income, those living in temporary accommodation, or small bedsits, and students studying in the borough.

Launderettes are disappearing from the high street, from a national peak of 12,500 in the 1980’s to just 3,000 today, 450 of which are in London.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Business and Investment
When the Government introduced Permitted Development Rights, they opened the door for private developers to change the use of buildings in our borough, without seeking Planning permission first, from valuable employment space for businesses into homes for private rent or sale. A short sighted policy imposed on our local community and its economy.

By introducing Article 4 Directions we have made sure the Council has taken the lead in responding to this short sighted approach by ensuring that you have to get Planning permission if you want to change the use of employment space in the borough. The latest Directions also require developers to seek Planning permission if they want to change the use of buildings that support start-ups, warehousing or light manufacturing and now we are adding launderettes to this list.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Business and Investment

The Article 4 Direction will remove Permitted Development Rights that were brought in by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and allow developers to convert from various uses including offices, warehouses or shops into private housing without planning permission.

There will be a consultation open to all residents and businesses before the new plans are put in place. The Article 4 Direction will be effective 12 months after the notice of the decision is formally given and will be reviewed after three years.

For more information about the plans, see the Cabinet meeting agenda from Monday 27 March.