Council bans conversion of freehold house into flats

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    Council bans conversion of freehold house into flats

    My ex-partner and I wanted to convert our freehold house into 2 flats as an architect indicated it would be easy and reasonably priced to do because of the layout. The high cost from each of us selling up and buying a new property, plus the difficulty in getting a decent mortgage on a single income in London, made this option very attractive.

    However, our local London Borough council has a blanket ban on all houses under a certain square metre in size from being converted into flats and ours is 15 square metres too small to gain planning permission for it.

    The stipulated reason in the LB's unitary development plan is their aim to preserve family sized housing because of the shortage of it in the area, in particular for ethnic minority families who tend to have larger families.

    I can see why they are trying to limit developments like this, given the housing shortage, but we are probably going to sell the house as neither of us has enough income to buy the other out of their share.

    I can also see why the LB thinks they are addressing a shortage in BME housing but we expect that the property market is inevitably skewed to those on higher incomes which may mean we our property is viewed by mainly white professionals, if any of the local property sales are anything to go by.

    In addition, the irony is that the LB, who favours equality and diversity, is potentially addressing housing policy on one group only to exclude it on the other – we are gay and our childlessness has counted against us in this particular policy decision. It’s also a shame their policy flies in the face of national demographics which shows an increase in single person households.

    I’m relatively philosophical now – I can understand that policies come out of research and should fulfil the greatest needs - but can’t hide my disappointment that the best housing solution for our particular needs from our perspective is banned.

    Perversely, there was a planning application that was considered by the LB for a local property (end of terraced house) to be demolished and a number of 1-2 bed flats built in its place. It seems you can demolish family sized housing and then at least have the planning permission considered for it to be replaced with tiny flats (planning was refused it will surely be resubmitted with modest changes in design) but all conversions under a certain size are automatically forbidden.

    My question is, from your experience and knowledge, is it worth undertaking a loft conversion to tip over the size threshold that bars planning applications for converting houses or will the LB only consider the original size of the house prior to the development of the Loft?

    It’s probably a moot point anyway, since we are unlikely to be able to afford both a loft and house conversion, plus there’s still a risk that the subsequent planning permission to get it turned into flats would still be rejected, but I thought I’d ask.

    Many thanks.


    Many planning authorities have policies placing a threshold on ORIGINAL dwelling size for conversions... this means that it would not be a good thing to convert your loft just to get over the threshold... You are limited by the need to progress proposals in accordance with the development it could be that you are on a sticky wicket...


    Peter Kyte


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