Permitted Development Rights

We are losing Employment Space to Residential Developers

Over the past year we have lost around 2 Hecatres of good office and employment space to residential use, where a landlord has turned offices into flats.


The Office Building on Gatwick Road (pictured) is one such building that will now be flats.  It is the wrong use and in completely the wrong place.


We are now working with Crawley Borough Council and other groups to lobby the Government to overturn Permitted Development Rights and to gain an exemption for key employment locations such as Manor Royal.


The text below will be sent to the Department responsible (DCLG) so please indicate your support for this.




The need to Reform government policy on Permitted Development Rights


Draft Statement from Gatwick Diamond Business


We the undersigned call on the government to reform as a priority its current policy on Permitted Development Rights (PDR). 

1.      We believe urgent reform of PDR is absolutely essential in order to stop the steady erosion of available employment land, which is increasingly denying businesses the space to expand, create jobs and deliver economic growth.


Crawley Borough Council's Local Plan has revealed a forecast employment land deficit over the period to 2030 of over 35 hectares.  This is a serious impediment to business growth.


Permitted Development Rights is making the situation inexorably worse.  Through the PDR process, the Borough has already n effect lost almost one quarter of a million square feet of employment space– more than 2 hectares.  There is every prospect that the same volume of space will be lost next year, unless government policy is reformed.


Business occupancy levels at Manor Royal have increased significantly over the last 3 years – buoyed by a welcome upturn in the economy – but the business district is almost full.  There is a major shortage of modern 21st century office space.  The lack of small business start-up and grow on space is even more acute, despite strong demand for it.  We firmly believe that the lack of suitable modern grade A office space represents a major market failure!


2. Poor quality, outdated office space has been allowed to deteriorate by landlords hoping to make more money from conversion to residential accommodation.   We believe that the current policy of allowing this type of office space to be freely converted into residential is a grave mistake and will stifle economic growth.


In order to grow, businesses are crying out for access to modern, flexible twenty first century office space, underpinned by state of the art ultra and super-fast broadband connectivity.   There is a major shortage of such business space and that which has been built is very quickly occupied.


Once commercial space and employment land loses its status and is converted to residential, it is gone forever.  Its wealth creation potential disappears along with its contribution to job creation and economic growth.


Over the past year there is clear evidence that new residential developments are depriving the economy of desperately needed existing employment land.  To make matters worse new residential dwellings are being built in the middle of a business and industrial district, which is entirely unsuitable for homes!


Whilst PDR can deliver much needed new residential units in more suitable locations, it is also currently introducing residential use into very unsuitable environments, potentially noise or pollution affected, therefore providing poor amenity for the residents as well as acting as a disincentive for businesses to expand their premises due to new proximity to residential. 


We also understand from the Council that overall the lack of any planning controls means much of the new residential accommodation is substandard in terms of internal space, external amenity space, parking provision, landscaping, bin storage and other issues. 


3.      Rather than allowing employment land to be swallowed up "en masse" by residential, we strongly believe that government policy should incentivise conversion of outdated commercial stock into modern, flexible and fit for purpose grade A office space.    Micro, small and large businesses are all crying out for such commercial space, so that they can grow and create jobs. 


4.      Business districts and employment zones should therefore be exempt from PDR entirely

The Gatwick Diamond is a crucial engine room for business and economic growth not just for the south of England but for UK PLC.  The Manor Royal business district alone accommodates over 500 businesses and 30,000 jobs, including a number of blue chip companies such as Thales, Virgin Atlantic, Siemens, Elekta, Nestlë, Santander and Doosan.  The Gatwick Diamond has excellent potential to drive significant long term economic growth.


The growing presence of residential developments in the Manor Royal is undermining the ability for manufacturing and distribution businesses to continue to operate and grow in an environment, which in order to grow sustainably must be suitably distanced from living space.  These businesses make a massive contribution to GVA growth and to the country's business and export base and the impact of PDR runs a serious risk of cutting that potential off.


5.      The government must develop new planning policy and develop new incentives for commercial developers to help address the market failure in the supply of Grade A office space so that high GVA generating businesses, so crucial to wealth creation and economic output, have the room to grow and create higher value jobs. 


Unless urgent reforms are made by government to the PDR and unless new incentives to upgrade and modernise outdated office stock are introduced, the shortage of employment land will get far worse.  Its absence will stifle and kill off the area's excellent long term business and economic growth potential.   In fact, it will inevitably yield to a downward spiral of business activity and jobs as business space is vacated (due to proximity to residential).  Businesses will not be able to deliver the sustainable new jobs your government is looking for. 


6.      We strongly urge the government to carry out the necessary reforms to the PDR policy to prevent major structural damage being done to business prosperity, wealth creation and job creation, which will drastically undermine the reputation of the Gatwick Diamond as a dynamic hub for business growth.



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