Brent and Harrow
5 May 2016 Vote for
Sadiq Khan Mayor of London
Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
Labour Party Londonwide


town centres

“Government must reverse proposals or high streets will change forever”

Serious damage would be inflicted on town centres if the Government’s proposals to allow shops to be converted into flats goes through. The proposals would allow the owners of shops to convert them into flats without planning permission.

I proposed the motion, unanimously passed today by the London Assembly, calling on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to lobby the Government to reverse its proposals because of the detrimental impact it would have on high streets across London. The motion was proposed in response to the Government’s announcement in August that there would be a relaxation of the rules for converting retail outlets into residential premises.

This is another hair-brained idea from a Government which trumpets localism whilst once again ignoring local concerns. Many local authorities are doing fantastic work regenerating their local high streets but this takes away their ability to make local decisions on what is best for their communities.

We know there are better ways of getting housing than at the expense of jobs and growth. We recognise that our town centres must adapt in order to thrive and many local authorities are already doing this. It’s not right that they should not be allowed a say in what happens in their local communities.

I call on the Mayor to lobby the Government to reverse this ludicrous proposal which will ultimately damage town centres and change high streets forever.”



  1. The motions has been copied below:

Commercial to Residential Conversions

This Assembly calls on the Mayor of London to lobby the Government to reverse its proposal to allow the conversion of shops into flats without planning permission.

This Assembly warns that the proposed permitted development rights may seriously impact on both Inner and Outer London Boroughs by:

1.         Creating hope value for retail premises in London whether viable or not, driving up rents for small businesses;

2.         damaging the integrity of some retail areas in London, leaving shops isolated from one another by unsuitable residential properties; and

3.         generating sub-standard quality of residential units, as Planning Authorities will have no control either over the size and mix of dwellings, nor over provision of infrastructure or standards.  

This Assembly recognises that our town centres must adapt in order to thrive, and that injecting larger residential elements could be beneficial by utilising redundant space and increasing footfall. Many local authorities are already doing this. However, such a move must be done in a plan-led way to avoid destroying the integrity of retail areas.

As well as secondary frontages of town centres, at most risk will be corner shops, local parades, and some neighbourhood shopping centres, which are often at the core of local communities. Because the change of use cannot be applied selectively, this will not spare those shops which are thriving.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to lobby Government to reverse this proposal to avoid serious damage to London’s economic growth, social inclusion, and quality of housing, all to the detriment of localism.