Utilising Unused Office Space

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 30th May 2021.

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Photo of Hina Bokhari Hina Bokhari Liberal Democrat

A recent study in Paris showed that if around 40% of businesses move to two days a week working from home this would see a 30% reduction in the need for office space. Given the expected reduction in demand in London is likely to be similar, how are you looking to re-use and redevelop this space and do you think it could play a role in meeting the demand for more quality, affordable housing, particularly social housing?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

London has a reputation as a global innovation hub. The emerging office sectors of tech, science, media, architecture, creative, communications and marketing were the fastest growing before the pandemic and are well-placed to drive the recovery.

While there are emerging trends that could affect the nature of office working – including broader shifts in demand for office space as a result of the pandemic - the extent of this and its impact on the need for office space in London has yet to emerge fully. We also have to recognise there has been an historic under-supply of offices in the Central Activities Zone for example, making it difficult for businesses to access the office space they need. Where office space is proven to be genuinely surplus to requirements, my London Plan policies support re-purposing or redevelopment for other uses including good quality housing, affordable housing and supporting infrastructure. We want to deliver this through a planned approach, ensuring development accords with the requirements of the London Plan and Good Growth objectives; I am concerned, however, that the Government’s new permitted development rights could undermine this, encouraging conversion of viable commercial space while failing to deliver high quality and genuinely affordable housing in the right places.