Milton Keynes Council have launched a consultation on new rules for developers who want to convert city centre offices into flats.
At present, developers can use so-called 'permitted development rights' to convert any office building in Milton Keynes into residential accommodation without planning permission being required.
It has led to some controversial planning proposals - most notably plans to create 182 flats above Milton Keynes Railway Station with no parking provided.
The scheme was described by Council Leader Peter Marland at the time as "genuinely appalling, not only because of the poor size of the flats and the lack of parking, but the long term damage to the possibility of regenerating Station Square."
Now Milton Keynes Council have revealed plans to remove 'permitted development rights' from the entire City Centre area.
The 'Article 4 Direction', if confirmed, would take effect from 2 July 2021 and would mean that anyone proposing to change an office to residential use would be required to apply for planning permission to the Council.
It would cover the area between V7 Saxon Street, H6 Childs Way, the West Coast Mainline and H5 Portway.
Speaking about the proposal, Council Leader Peter Marland said: "Milton Keynes Council wants to ensure a good supply of good quality and affordable housing, that is not achieved by converting office space to poor quality units that provide no affordable housing, minimum space standards and no funding for infrastructure."
"Applying an Article 4 Direction removes the ridiculous ability developers have been given to convert office space without going through the proper planning system and puts back the ability of local people to properly manage development.”
The Milton Keynes Council website explains the justification for the decision: "In the Council’s view office conversions to residential use are harming local amenity as properties are being provided which do not comply with national minimum space standards."
"Additionally, office conversions are reducing the supply of office floorspace within the city centre, undermining the Council’s strategy and planning policies for the proper planning of the area."
"Withdrawal of permitted development rights will enable the Council to assess office conversion proposals against relevant development plan policies and seek planning obligations to mitigate the impact of this development on local infrastructure and facilities."
Relevant parties are now being invited to give their views on the proposal in a consultation which ends at 5pm on Friday 24th July 2020.
You can read more and submit a consultation response on the Milton Keynes Council website.