Would you trust a developer to responsibly convert office blocks into flats – without planning permission?

Hove MP Mike Weatherley supports planning-free development

1 February 2013…..Apparently Eric Pickles – for his next planning trick on this country – fancies letting developers convert office blocks into flats:  without the need for planning applications and consents.  Not only does Mr. Pickles appear to trust them to provide homes that are FIT to live in and call home, but it appears he has the enthusiastic support of the MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley, who went public with it in this newsletter post:  here. 
Planning Applications are all that stand between the public good and ruthless developers who already call box-room-sized spaces ‘bedrooms’  that allow a single bed in them, but no other furniture.  And no hanging storage space.  Maybe they would put ladders in wide doorways to allow access to a bed platform with storage and standing space beneath?  Some offices have high ceilings!
Without planning applications they could use whatever materials they pleased (cardboard walls, retained office partitions maybe?), heating vents from a single boiler room – no controls – and sealed windows maybe?  If an office building is a sealed building then, there would be no compulsion to change the windows in any way to allow opening or natural ventilation. 
How durable and appropriate would fixtures and fittings be?  Flooring?  Maybe just poured cement?   Listen, Arghiros did it at 1A Connaught Road and called it cutting edge cool.  Maybe keep existing office flooring with power points embedded in the carpet tiles?  Pipework?  Installed to what standard? Why bother to change overhead strip lighting ?  Save on cost and just keep the power points where they are and only allow for a microwave and a cocktail fridge.  But don’t worry about the distance from the powerpoints to the reasonable point of storage or use of them.  Residents can get extension leads.
Would flat layouts be about cramming in maximum numbers of units that cheat on room layouts so that doors open into each other or in room-filling ways?  Who would stop that?  Would there be ANY checks and balances apart from building regulations (maybe)?
In the normal planning application process, there is consultation with water, fire, police authorities.  There is consultation concerning impact on schools and local transport.  No planning application: no contribution towards extra school places being created.  No ‘secured by design’ attention to layouts and designing-out crime.  No sound proofing….  No BREEAM rating or sustainability features.  Grey water use?  Nah.  Water supply as is…just jam in a few more sinks and loos.
Jeez…..without the usual channels ensuring such flats are the full ticket, would mortgage lenders shy away from lending to buy one?  Slum landlords pounce on opportunity?  Some very shoddy stuff got built WITH planning applications in the boom years that is falling apart with no apparent redress.  Imagine how much worse it could get without any planning control scrutiny! 
How much detail is there on Pickles’ latest wheeze?  Enough to satisfy Hove’s MP, MikeWeatherley that an acceptable quality of life would DEFINITELY be provided in such flats?  What amenity space for children?  Without a planning application none would be required:  at all.  Why has he jumped to support so soon?

About saveHOVE

Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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