Crawley moves to restrict conversion of employment buildings to 'unplanned housing'

A West Sussex council has launched a consultation on proposals to prevent employment buildings being converted into "unplanned housing", claiming that such changes of use are jeopardising economic growth in the area.

Crawley Town Hall (pic: PL Chadwick, Geograph)
Crawley Town Hall (pic: PL Chadwick, Geograph)

Crawley Borough Council said it is consulting on the creation of article four directions "to safeguard four areas from having employment buildings converted into unplanned housing".

The directions would remove permitted development rights that allow the conversion of office, light industrial and storage and distribution uses to residential.

Under these rights, a planning application is only necessary if the conversion will cause issues relating to transport, contamination, flooding or business noise.

The change would mean that developers would need full planning permission to change the use of such buildings to residential.

The council said the number of business jobs in Crawley grew by 17 per cent per cent between 2011 and 2019, "and there is strong potential for further economic growth".

However, it added that a "major impediment to continued growth is that Crawley has a very limited supply of available new business land, and the council’s draft local plan identifies a land supply deficit of a minimum of 21 hectares".

Further, it said, "Crawley has lost 61,500 square metres of business space to residential development via permitted development rights".

According to the council, the directions would apply in:

  • The majority of the Three Bridges Corridor (including Denvale Trade Park, Spindle Way and Stephenson Way)
  • Maidenbower Business Park
  • Tilgate Forest Business Centre
  • Lowfield Heath.

The council said it has previously brought into force article four directions in the Manor Royal Business Improvement District.

Subject to the consultation, which runs until 17 May, the directions would come into force on 22 February 2021, the council said.

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