Pickles proposals would lead to more “luxury homes for millionaires” warns Hackney’s Mayor

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council is urging residents to take action against a proposal to change planning law, which could lead to more “luxury homes for millionaires” while depriving local people of much needed jobs.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has consulted on plans to give greater powers to developers to change commercial properties, like office space or workshops, into residential without the council or businesses being consulted fully about planning proposals – as they need to be at present.

The council has warned that if Secretary of State Eric Pickles grants the changes, it could threaten Hackney’s creative commercial districts, and lead to a free-for-all for luxury housing developers and the loss of up to 40,000 jobs.

The move would prevent the council from opposing any commercial to residential development in key commercial areas like Shoreditch, Dalston, Hackney Wick, Haggerston and Hackney Central.

A hard-fought and successful campaign last May backed by businesses saw Hackney and 16 other local authorities granted exemptions from the same planning laws.

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney said: “This is now the second time that the DCLG has floated these detrimental planning laws that will have serious and long-term impacts on the capital’s cluster of technology and creative businesses that are establishing themselves here in Hackney.

“If this change in policy were to go ahead, commercial properties will be left to the mercy of developers who will convert them into unaffordable residential spaces that will not help to house local people.

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“They will be creating luxury homes for millionaires while depriving Hackney people of much needed local jobs.

He continued: “This will also prevent new businesses from purchasing commercial space in a volatile market and forcing many other businesses to relocate, transforming some of the capital’s key, globally-known centres of technology start-ups into areas devoid of employment and investment opportunities.”

He is urging the business community to respond to the consultation and back a petition challenging the policy, which he has warned could “tear the creative heart out of Hackney.”

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said it was disappointing the council was opposing “more homes for local people.

“The Government’s change of use reforms are providing badly needed homes such as studios and one-bedroom flats for young people, especially in London where there is a particularly acute need for more housing.

Modern working patterns are changing with mobile technology – and in my own department, we’ve been able to reduce our office space requirements significantly in recent years.

To see the online petition go to https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Eric_Pickles_MP_Save_Hackney_Businesses/share/?new.