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London businesses have found themselves “turfed out” of office buildings due to government planning regulations, Labour’s London Assembly Planning Spokesperson, Nicky Gavron AM, has warned. New analysis by Ms Gavron revealed that over one million square metres of office space, about the size of 150 Wembley Stadium football pitches, will be wiped out after the government relaxed planning rules on the conversion of offices into residential properties. The relaxed rules make it possible for developers to convert properties without the need for planning permission, with councils only given a veto if the proposed development fails to meet the most basic conditions. Ms Gavron warned that the policy undermines London’s economy and could “result in tiny sub-standard housing which fails to serve the needs of Londoners.”

Analysis of data from the London Development Database revealed that, between May 2013 and March 2015, there were 2,806 proposals to convert office space into residential property under the permitted development rights. With over 2,000 applications already approved, approximately 1,094,550 square metres of floor space will be lost in the capital, the equivalent of 153 Wembley Stadium football pitches.

Outer London is disproportionately impacted by the government’s changes, with 746,316 square metres of office space lost, the equivalent of 104.5 Wembley football pitches. Parts of Inner London are currently exempt from the policy, but that reprieve will come to an end in May 2019.

The approved applications will see employment space across London converted into residential properties with councils given very little power to object or insist on adequate standards. Ms Gavron warned that the reforms could result in sub-standard housing, with developers allowed to “ride roughshod” over important environmental and disability standards. Under the rules the converted housing does not need to meet vital space standards or meet affordable housing requirements.

Labour’s London Assembly Planning Spokesperson, Nicky Gavron AM, said:

“Seeing businesses turfed out of offices and other employment spaces across the capital will do nothing to help London’s economy. Nor will allowing developers to ride roughshod over planning standards solve London’s housing crisis.

“Yes, we need to solve the housing crisis but this isn’t the way to do it. What this policy does is rob local communities of an opportunity to deliver the developments suitable to their neighbourhoods and result in tiny sub-standard housing which fails to serve the needs of Londoners.

“The considerable loss of affordable workspace comes as a huge blow to London’s start-ups and small business, threatening Londoners with having to move or even losing their jobs.

“Vast swathes of London office space are likely to be wiped out under this flawed policy, it’s baffling that the Mayor isn’t fighting these changes.”

Relaxed office-to-residential rules see London lose office space the size of 150 Wembley football pitches

London businesses have found themselves “turfed out” of office buildings due to government planning regulations, Labour’s London Assembly Planning Spokesperson, Nicky Gavron AM, has warned. New analysis by Ms Gavron...

Boris Johnson will fail to reach his target to create 250,000 apprenticeships before he leaves office it was highlighted today. The Mayor of London remains over 100,000 apprenticeship starts short of his target with less than two months left of his final mayoral term. Labour’s London Assembly Economy Spokesperson, Fiona Twycross AM, spoke out ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, saying the Mayor’s apprenticeships record was “deeply disappointing”.

Boris Johnson promised Londoners he would create 250,000 new apprenticeship starts during his second term in office. However, data from the Skills Funding Agency showed that just 142,340 apprenticeships have been created in the capital since May 2012. With the Mayor achieving just 56% of his target with less than two months to go before he leaves City Hall, he looks almost certain to break his pledge.

Of the apprenticeships created, almost half are going to over 25s despite youth unemployment in the capital remaining a significant problem at 16.8%. In 2014/15, the last full year for which data is available, 47% of apprentices were over the age of 25, an increase from 19% in 2009/10. Dr Twycross said the Mayor’s poor record had seen thousands of unemployed young Londoners left “on the side-lines, unable to get the career opportunities they desperately want.”

Labour London Assembly Economy Spokesperson, Fiona Twycross AM, said:

“Apprenticeships make a hugely valuable to London’s skills base and economy. Boris’ record on apprenticeships has been deeply disappointing. Even the Mayor must recognise that his failure to hit his 250,000 target is an embarrassing legacy to leave behind.

“But it isn’t just the Mayor’s pride which is at stake. He’s badly let down thousands of young Londoners who remain on the side-lines, unable to get the career opportunities they desperately want.

“As he moves on in his own career, he leaves a legacy of failure on creating apprenticeships which the new Mayor will need to tackle.”

Mayor will miss his 250,000 apprenticeship target leaving behind “embarrassing legacy”

Boris Johnson will fail to reach his target to create 250,000 apprenticeships before he leaves office it was highlighted today. The Mayor of London remains over 100,000 apprenticeship starts short...

Labour’s Leader on the London Fire Authority, Fiona Twycross AM, has called for the Mayor to scale back his plans to axe 13 London fire engines after new funding was identified which could see at least some of the 13 fire engines retained.

The move comes after the Mayor overruled the Fire Authority’s and ordered them to axe 13 fire engines in order to make £9m savings from their 2016/17 Budget.

Whilst the Fire Authority has little choice but to comply with Boris Johnson’s Mayoral Direction ordering them to scrap the 13 fire engines, Dr Twycross today wrote to the Mayor to propose a “last ditch compromise” calling on him to meet with her to discuss using £9m in unexpected underspends from last year’s budget to retain a number of the 13 fire engines currently scheduled to be axed.

If the Mayor agrees to compromise it would allow the Fire Bridge to retain a number of fire engines at the stations they deemed would make the most positive impact.

Last week the Mayor ordered the 13 fire engines to be axed despite a public consultation finding 82% of respondents were against the plans to reduce the number of fire engines in the capital.

Labour’s Leader on the London Fire Authority, Dr Fiona Twycross AM, said:

“We have opposed these unnecessary cuts from moment they were proposed. The Mayor overruling the Fire Authority and forcing through the cuts is profoundly undemocratic, particularly given the strength of public opinion against the cuts.

“With unexpected money available due to underspends last year the Mayor has the chance to make the savings he wants whilst still saving some of the 13 fire engines. Ploughing ahead with the cuts when funding is available would be little more than vandalism.

“Over the next year there will be a root and branch review of the fire brigade. It makes sense that we leave our options open and retain as many of these fire engines so there can be a calm and considered analysis of what is best for the Fire Bridge. Axing them now limits the Fire Brigade’s options and would seem little more than a ideologically motivated drive to make cuts.”

Boris urged to compromise and scale back fire engine cuts

Labour’s Leader on the London Fire Authority, Fiona Twycross AM, has called for the Mayor to scale back his plans to axe 13 London fire engines after new funding was...

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