Norwich City Council’s plans to help control the number of offices in the city being turned into residential properties has been progressed to the next stage.
Following a six-week public consultation in July this year, the city council is now taking the next steps and will update its cabinet on Wednesday 8 December. It’s hoped that cabinet members agree that an Article 4 Direction will be brought into effect from 29 July 2022, if no objection is received from the Secretary of State.
If this Article 4 Direction is in place it would mean full planning permission would be required to change offices to residential premises within the city centre.
Since changes to the planning system in 2013 which introduced permitted development rights to convert offices to flats, around 30% of office stock in Norwich has been lost, which has significantly impacted on the supply of available office space in the city centre.
Councillor Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth said:
“It’s important to the city that we can progress with the Article 4 Direction to help Norwich’s economy thrive and enable our residents and businesses to flourish in an office environment.
“People want to be able to return to the office, if only for part of the week, and we as a council need to make sure there is space available for them.”
A review of office accommodation in Norwich, commissioned by the city council, found the market was in a ‘fragile and vulnerable’ condition partly due to the significant loss of offices in the last 8 years.
The review concluded that an Article 4 Direction was needed, which, if granted, would take away the permitted development right to convert offices into flats – mostly within the city’s inner ring road – and any application for change of use would require full planning permission.
While an Article 4 Direction would not prevent all offices being changed into flats, it would give the city council more control over any proposed changes.
Norwich City Council Cabinet will meet on the 8 December 2021 - the agenda and reports can be found on the council website.