Westminster plans office conversion clamp down

Reports that a central London borough is planning to introduce new rules to prevent office space being lost to housing feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that Westminster City Council is to clamp down on housing developers in an effort to protect Britain's biggest concentration of economic activity. The newspaper reports that developers wanting to convert offices into homes in the central London borough must replace the space with offices in the area, according to a council plan.

The Times (subscription required) reports that councils have resorted to buying back homes they sold off at a discount at full market value to combat the burgeoning housing crisis. According to the newspaper, local authorities have sold off 20,000 homes under the government's Right to Buy scheme since 2012 but built only 5,000 to replace them. The newspaper says that at least nine local authorities are repurchasing at a loss homes that they sold off at a discount, while many other authorities are looking to approve a "buy back" policy.

The Independent reports that the debate debate over Thomas Heatherwick's proposed Garden Bridge has intensified as it emerged officials at St Paul's Cathedral have registered a furious complaint that it would spoil views of Sir Christopher Wren's famous dome. According to the newspaper, the cathedral's "Surveyor to the Fabric" claimed that the "expensive and controversial" project would have "irreversible impacts on some of the most iconic views of St Paul's".

The Guardian reports that air pollution in Beijing, China, is forcing children to play beneath closed domes. According to the newspaper, the British School of Beijing is the latest of the city's international colleges to build an artificial bubble to simulate a normal environment beneath the "cloak of smog". "Beijing's air quality has long been a cause for concern, but the effects of its extreme levels of pollution on daily life can now be seen in physical changes to the architecture of the city," the newspaper reports.


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