Policy E3: Maintaining employment capacity and improving employment floorspace

GBC Policy

Policy E3: Maintaining employment capacity and improving employment floorspace 

In order to sustain and enhance employment capacity (including land, floorspace and/or jobs): 

  • employment floorspace will be protected and the loss strongly resisted on the Strategic 

Employment Sites, which are defined in policy E1. Change of use will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use (offices, research and development or industrial) for a continuous period of at least two years 

  • employment floorspace will be protected and the loss resisted on the Locally Significant Employment Sites, which are defined in policy E1. Change of use will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use (offices, research and development or industrial) for a continuous period of at least 18 months 
  • employment floorspace will be protected in line with latest needs assessment and the loss be resisted outside designated employment sites. Change of use will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use (offices, research and development or industrial) for a continuous period of at least 12 months. 

Once the period of comprehensive and active marketing is achieved, any other suitable employment use should be considered before change of use to residential or other use will be permitted. 

The redevelopment of outmoded employment floorspace will be permitted to cater for modern business needs. The provision of improved ICT infrastructure will be encouraged in refurbished and redeveloped sites.

GGG Response

Summary

We do not support the policy of resisting change of use from B1a to residential because it flies in the face of positive property market solutions for the regeneration of brownfield land and is contrary to current government policy which has recently been reaffirmed and permits a change of use from B1a (offices) to C3 (residential).

Detailed response:

  • We believe that the existing government policy which has recently been made permanent of allowing change of use from B1a to C3 is sound
  • Many office buildings reaching an age of more than 30/50 years become redundant in terms of energy compliance making them illegal to occupy for employment purposes and the cost of refurbishment makes them redundant and uneconomic
  • The reality of market demand is that the gross development value of refurbished residential space is in excess of the gross development value of refurbished old office space in many locations (this gross development value assessment is supported by the analysis by property consultants GVA in the supporting evidence within the Allies and Morrison Masterplan for Guildford dated 2015)
  • Office space is available and the turnover of office space in Guildford is slow, which would seem to indicate that there is excess office capacity relative to demand
  • To resist change from B1a to C3 is contrary to the concept of brownfield first for residential development schemes
  • To resist change from B1a to C3 in Strategic or Significant Employment Sites is contrary to the concept of integrated mixed use communities whereby the journey to work is minimised
  • London has led the way with significant residential schemes being created from redundant office stock. A good example is the South Bank in London adjacent to Waterloo Station where in 2005 the Shell Centre has been converted into flats. Another early example is the 2000 scheme at Metro Central Heights at Elephant and Castle where the old Alexander Fleming House was converted to 435 flats by St George. GBC needs to adopt more modern trends and policies.
  • Guildford is in dire need of increasing town centre residential development
  • The feared loss of employment will be marginal and impractical to resist. Empty office blocks are not the answer.
  • We regard the evidence base (Employment Land Needs Assessment 2015 and the Guildford Borough Economic Strategy 2013-31) as flawed and inconsistent and therefore unreliable evidence
  • In relation to the targets and monitoring indicators, we do not consider that the targets are desirable or sound, and therefore do not consider that the monitoring indicators are valid.  Why should Guildford target 3200 additional B class jobs when it has almost full employment?  Why should no employment floorspace be lost, when some of it is inappropriate and not fit for purpose?  Why is it desirable to increase B1/B2/B8 floorspace?

 

 


2017 Guildford Local Plan

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