Housing Core Strategy Review Issues and Options

Housing Issues and Options

15 Issue: Amalgamations and De-conversions

Issues

15.1         Whilst there is a need for larger, family sized market housing, amalgamations may lead to a reduction in the overall number of dwellings in the housing stock.

15.2         The demand for larger units is reflected by the steady number of schemes that come forward for amalgamating a number of smaller residential units (normally one or two bedroom) into larger family homes, sometimes super-prime homes.

15.3         The Council currently takes the view that not all amalgamations need planning permission, and the restoration of single homes has some beneficial conservation merit, as well as providing housing of the type we need. Currently, the Core Strategy recognises that de-conversion proposals may be acceptable in certain circumstances, for instance when the proposal involves de-conversion back to a purpose built family home. There is no presumption against the loss of units where the loss is less than five (e.g. five units into one family unit). The trigger point for where a material change of use occurs is considered to be where there is a net loss of five or more units. Whether or not a ‘material’ change of use has occurred depends on the consequences of such amalgamations i.e. cumulative impact of such de-conversions may be significant. 

Options

Option 1: Continue with the status quo and retain the existing policy resisting loss only where there is a net loss of five units or more.

Pros

    • Can assist in the process of restoring buildings back to their original intended use of a single family dwelling.
    • Helps to maintain a balance between the creation of larger family units which are in short supply and a significant loss of smaller units.

Cons

    • The cumulative impact of such losses could reduce net growth of the Borough’s overall housing stock.
    • May not always lead to the restoration of a purpose built dwelling.

Option 2: Allow the restoration of large family sized houses back to the purpose for which they were built (this may involve the loss of more than five residential units).

Pros

    • It would enable large family sized dwellings to be created which would appeal to the more affluent and possibly the super prime market.
    • Would enable the possibility of the restoration of the original internal layout of a property and could contribute to the Borough’s outstanding townscape.

Cons

    • The number of dwellings lost through de-conversions would be increased from the current situation.
    • May lead to more properties being bought for investment purposes on the international market which in certain circumstances can lead to problems of under occupation and vacancy for parts of the year.

Option 3: Make all de-conversions the subject of a planning application and resist the loss of any units which met minimum floorspace standards.

Pros

    • It would be likely to increase the Borough’s housing stock.
    • In certain circumstances it may contribute to diversity of housing stock in the Borough.

Cons

    • It would prevent any flexibility to create larger family units.
    • It may hinder a property being restored to its original layout and the purpose for which it was built and it may not contribute to maintaining the Borough’s outstanding townscape.
    • It may hinder the role of London as a Global City and niche role of Kensington and Chelsea plays in catering to the international investor.
    • Could generate more planning applications and be costlier to administer.