A new low in office-to-residential conversions

Julia Park

The sorry story of Newbury House shows that permitted development too often makes people’s lives a misery, writes Julia Park

Having arrived early for a site visit and design review in Newbury Park, at lunchtime on a blisteringly hot Wednesday, I thought I’d explore the area. Opposite the station, on the edge of the A12, one of the busiest, most polluting roads in London, I noticed a seven-storey office block with curtains drawn across most of the windows. It looked lived in and above the traffic noise I could just hear voices inside, including those of children.

Back in the office, a quick search of Redbridge’s planning records confirmed that a request for Prior Approval, to convert the building (Newbury House) from office to residential use under Permitted Development (PD), was nodded through by the council’s Head of Development Management in 2014. Assuming the proposals were implemented (and everything suggests they were) each of the six upper floors now comprises 10 self-contained, one-roomed studio flats. The architect’s drawing describes 18 of the studios as ‘singles’ and 42 as ‘doubles’. The smallest single is 13sq m and the smallest double is 14.7sq m. Only one is over 20sq m.

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