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New plans to convert more buildings into homes the ‘thin end of the wedge’

Andrew Hardwick is warning that new Government plans to allow a whole raft of buildings to be converted into apartments could be the “thin end of the wedge” and allow unbridled changes to our city centres being made without local control.

Andrew, says that the “permitted development rights” already in place have seen over 25,000 sq ft of offices in Clifton alone being converted into apartments. The new plans would allow even more changes to take throughout the city.

The Government proposals now on the table not only set into stone the principle of permitted development rights but will extend them to allow light industrial and warehouse buildings, as well as many others, to convert to residential use without the need for planning permission.

“While everyone recognises we have an urgent need for more homes, I have concerns that the sheer volume of conversions being made are permanently changing the character of places like Clifton without local people having a say in the matter.

“In Clifton the ‘mix’ between homes and businesses is what makes it such a vibrant place. Take away the employment uses and it becomes a very different place in the day – which would impact upon the pubs and restaurants that depend upon their trade.”

“What is the point of having planning authorities in place if major changes are made without the full control of local people?” asks Mr Hardwick. “I see this as the thin end of the wedge where national priorities – such as the need for more homes – can be steamrollered through by the politicians regardless of local needs or planning strategies.

“The next stage could well be clearing industrial buildings or shops and building new apartments.

“The character of our city has been built up over many years, and the fact that we have places of work in amongst the houses makes our local communities more economically sustainable, reduces car travel and is something I’d be loathe to see change.

“I’d like to see a debate on this within Bristol rather than let a major piece of planning policy slide through unopposed.”

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