Conversion held no threat toe mployment

The secretary of state has accepted an inspector's recommendation to allow the conversion of two 1960s office blocks in Southend-on-Sea to 280 flats with ground-floor commercial uses after ruling that this would not unacceptably reduce the potential supply of job-creating development.

The inspector reported that the appellants had produced convincing evidence to show that the type of office floor space provided by refurbishment of the blocks would not satisfy current demand, which was principally for freehold, low-rise office buildings nearer to the town centre.

He accepted the council's argument that there was no quantitative or qualitative need for additional housing in the short to medium term. He commented, however, that the targets were not intended to impose a ceiling and was satisfied that the site would be a sustainable location for residential schemes on previously developed land.

He noted that 84 flats would be provided on an affordable basis, 40 per cent of these being social rented and the remainder intermediate housing. The proposal must be beneficial in meeting national and development plan policies for widening housing choice for the less well-off, he reasoned. The housing element of the proposal would contribute to the government's objective of creating high-quality, sustainable, mixed and inclusive communities, he advised.

DCS Number 100-050-607

Inspector Barry Juniper; Inquiry.

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