tables on broadway market

Broadway Market. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Developers looking to turn offices or shops into flats in Hackney’s shopping areas will soon be compelled to seek planning permission first, under new plans approved this week by the Council.

The Council’s Cabinet has voted to adopt an Article 4 Direction (A4D) across the borough’s key town and shopping centres such as Dalston, Hackney Central, Stoke Newington and Hoxton.

In May 2013 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) developers could use Permitted Development rights (PDR) to change an office or shop into residential use without planning permission. 

The Council’s A4D will restrict these Permitted Development rights, with the aim of preventing the loss of shop and employment space.

Once the changes come into effect next year, developers will need to submit full planning application to change the use of offices or shops in a move the Council says will prevent the ‘decline of our high streets’.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “Hackney’s high streets make a vital contribution to our local economy and to the vibrancy of the borough. They give character to the borough and increasingly are attracting visitors from far and wide.

“The Government’s proposals make it easier for developers to change the use of buildings on our high streets without seeking planning permission. Converting a high street building from high street uses to unaffordable housing will lead to the decline of our high streets.

The A4D will be applied to all shop types, from traditional high street retail, to financial and professional services, restaurants and cafés, leisure facilities, public houses and many others.

A 21 day consultation will be undertaken to give people an opportunity to provide comments on the proposals.