Changes to planning regulations which protect some of Hertsmere’s major employment sites have been formally adopted – a step which could prove key to the borough’s economic recovery following lockdown.
Article 4 directions have come into effect locally, which means that developers must seek planning permission in order to convert any buildings into housing within 13 significant employment sites in Borehamwood, Potters Bar, Bushey, Radlett and Shenley.
Until recently, under permitted development rights, offices, light industrial and storage or distribution buildings could be converted into accommodation without the need for a planning application.
Hertsmere Borough Council agreed to make the changes at its Executive meeting more than a year ago, but it was decided to make the measures non-immediate in order to allow for a period of public consultation.
Local authorities must allow 12 months for consultation, as a minimum, which was achieved at the end of last month.
Councillor Dr Harvey Cohen said: “Given the current coronavirus crisis, we felt it was important that these new Article 4 directions should now come into effect.
“It’s our ongoing aim that local planning rules safeguard businesses and jobs, but it’s especially important now to protect our commercial heartlands, as they will be vital for Hertsmere’s economic bounce-back following lockdown.
“Previously under the prior approval process, if a developer wanted to convert offices into housing, it was only necessary to show that their proposal was acceptable with regard to its impact on transport and highways, contamination risks, flood risk and noise impact.
“It meant we had no power to refuse development because it would have forced an existing business to move or because the proposal didn’t include affordable housing, for example.
”We felt that proposals which could dramatically change the nature of important areas of employment in the borough should require the submission of a planning application.”
The sites which are affected by the Article 4 directions in Borehamwood are employment areas in Elstree Way; Stirling Way; Theobald Court; plus Borehamwood Enterprise Centre and Wrotham Business Park.
In Potters Bar, the protected employment areas are in Cranborne Road; Station Close and Hollies Way; in Elstree, they are Centennial Park and Lismirrane Industrial Park.
While the Otterspool Way employment area in Bushey; Beaumont Gate in Radlett and Farm Close in Shenley are also included.