Plans have been submitted to Ealing council for conversion of Iron Bridge House on Windmill Lane in Southall. Floors of office space would be sub-divided into 48 flats.
This type of scheme falls under “permitted development rights” and so no “affordable” housing needs to be provided, let alone social housing. The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has dodged questions on this issue recently.
It also means minimum space guidance can be ignored. Tiny box rooms are a common feature of other conversions.
Government guidance is that 37 square metres should be the minimum homes size. 37 square metres is tiny. But it’s simply guidance, and these plans fall below even that with one below 35 square metres.
Of course, when done well conversions could be a quick way to increase the supply of much needed new housing. But many, many safeguards are missing.
Just today news was out that new UK homes are not only some of the smallest in the entire developed world, but the average sized UK home has got progressively smaller decade-by-decade.
Many rules were relaxed or removed in the 1980s and only partially re-installed since under all parties in power. Small windows, little natural light, little storage and more all contribute to poor mental health and quality of life.
Little seems likely to change any time soon. Councils are powerless in cases like this and central Government pushes further and further with industrial unit to residential “permitted right” changes the next in line.
The planning application is 181500PAOR