From Bristol Liberal Democrats
LiberalDemocrats at Bristol City Council have attacked government plans to let office and industrial buildings be converted for housing without planning permission.
The government is consulting councils about its proposals, which are designed to free up the rules to allow new homes to be created in buildings previously used as warehousing or office blocks.
But the Lib Dem administration at the city council sees the move as an attack on the very cause the government says it supports – local communities making decisions about their own future.
“This is the exact opposite of localism. The government simply wants to have more central control,” says executive member for housing, property services and regeneration Anthony Negus.
“We have a responsibility to ensure our city is sustainable, using our local knowledge to achieve a balance of commercial, residential and other development.
“Instead, with this proposal we would be losing the control we need to ensure housing isn’t created where there are no jobs to support the families who will live there.
“Without us being able to stop it, a developer could effectively stoke demand for jobs while at the same time removing the opportunity to provide employment locally.”
Bristol Property Agents Association president Jayne Rixon said: “We are concerned about the future supply of development land for residential and employment uses in and around Bristol. We support growth and deregulation.
“However, we, too, are concerned about the proposal as it could increase pressure on the provision of future employment space as existing land and buildings become progressively converted for residential use, exacerbating the existing shortage.
“One exception would be in the case of high density redundant office buildings which could be brought back into beneficial use more quickly if a streamlined process for change of use was in situ.”