Conversion of Potters Bar offices to 14 apartments refused by government inspector
PUBLISHED: 13:35 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:35 15 July 2020
A government inspector has refused proposals to convert an office space into 14 apartments in Potters Bar, after it was already refused by Hertsmere Borough Council.
The appeal made by TSG Building Services was denied by a planning inspector, Dan Szymanski, on July 6 – who noted that the development is preferable to building on greenfield land, and that the reasons for HBC’s earlier refusal could be open to a judicial challenge.
However, he maintains that the proposals cannot be given the go-ahead, as they do not have permitted development rights – which allow office buildings to be converted into residential use without planning permission – since an Article 4 Direction has been given.
Article 4 Directions remove certain development rights, in order to protect the site, and mean the site is subject to normal planning procedure.
Mr Szymanski added: “The council’s decision notice are based upon sound planning matters that appear adequately justified.
“Therefore, it is not demonstrated that the council prevented or delayed a development that should have been permitted.”
HBC has also refused early applications by TSG due to “contamination and noise issues”, parking issues and a belief that the lower ground floor was not used as offices during 2013 to allow permitted development.
However, Liz Fitzgerald, director at Barker Parry Town Planning – who is acting on behalf of the developers – told the inspector that “the council have offered no evidence” that it was not being used as offices.
Reacting to the news, both Potters Bar Furzefield councillor Chris Myers and Christian Grey – whose ward covers the building – said they were delighted by the news.
Cllr Myers said: “I’m so pleased the Planning Inspectorate agreed with HBC’s decision. It seems obvious to the residents, the local authority and Christian Gray and I that this was a wholly unsuitable proposal.”
Cllr Grey added: “The natural zoning between the industrial estate, the issues with ground contamination and the nearest neighbours to the building being heavy industry companies make this incompatible with healthy living. I believe this to be the correct outcome.”
TSG was contacted for a comment when the planning application was originally submitted, and since their appeal was refused, but have so far not responded.
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