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Fight against office-to-flats must go on, says Islington Council

The council has now written to written to the Secretary of State asking him to agree to the quashing of his decision to cancel the council’s Article 4 Direction - the council's attempt to protect parts of the borough from the policy.  The government policy allows offices to be converted into flats without planning permission. Over the past year the high residential values in Islington have meant office tenants - including small businesses and charities - have been evicted to make way for private housing developments. As planning permission is not required, developers do not have to offer any affordable housing or other community benefits. Islington Council says the Article 4 direction - originally intended for the entire borough, but then scaled back in an attempt to offer Planning Minister Nick Boles MP a compromise - is needed to prevent further loss of jobs and affordable homes.  The council says the Secretary of State's decision to overturn Islington's Article 4 Direction was "based upon a mistake of fact giving rise to unfairness" and that he "failed to act fairly when considering whether to modify the Article 4 direction". 

Islington has consistently greatly exceeded its housing targets set out in the London Plan - and is set to continue to do so. However in justifying his action, the Secretary of State claims that Islington failed to deliver its housing targets over the period 2009 - 2013. In fact, Islington has exceeded its overall housing target by 43% over this period. The Secretary of State failed to take into account all the types of housing which the London Plan housing targets do. 

It is estimated that in 2013/14 over 2,000 residential units have been delivered in Islington against a target of 1,172. Islington has a very strong future housing supply, and delivery over the next five years is forecast to exceed the Mayor’s new higher targets by 38%. 

Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, Councillor James Murray, said: "The government is trying to stop us doing what's right for Islington. 

"Small businesses and charities have already been evicted from their offices to make way for bedsits. People in Islington are losing out on jobs, affordable housing, and any community benefit. 

"The planning minister waited until the eleventh hour to overturn our decision, refused to accept a compromise we offered, and in his reasoning got his figures wrong. Given the circumstances, a legal challenge is our only option." 

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