Hertsmere Borough Council has reaffirmed its commitment to stopping offices and industrial buildings in some areas being turned into homes.

The council has measures in place to safeguard at least 13 employment zones across the borough such as Elstree Way and Stirling Way in Borehamwood, Centennial Park in Elstree, and Otterspool Way in Bushey.

The legislation is known as an ‘Article 4’ direction and thwarts developers who otherwise would be able to convert places like offices into homes without the need for planning permission.

Original Article 4 directions were confirmed in Hertsmere just over two years ago, but changes in national legislation mean the directions have to be updated.

Watford Observer: Otterspool Way, off the A41 in Bushey, is another area where Article 4 directions apply. Credit: Google MapsOtterspool Way, off the A41 in Bushey, is another area where Article 4 directions apply. Credit: Google Maps

The council’s lead for planning, Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, said: “We have to protect our business parks and industrial estates because they generate many of the jobs and income which enable our businesses and communities to thrive.

“And we want to ensure new homes are delivered with the required amount of affordable housing, in the most appropriate locations, and that developers contribute to improvements in local infrastructure.

"We don’t want to see them springing up in former offices and other commercial buildings without developers seeking planning permission.

“Following recent changes to legislation, there is a risk such redevelopments or conversions could be allowed via permitted development rights.

"These new directions will enable us to better control the conversion or redevelopment of commercial premises into residential accommodation.”

Watford Observer: Hertsmere Borough Council officesHertsmere Borough Council offices

In addition to the employment areas, new directions are being introduced to protect a number of bungalows across Radlett, following the adoption of the Radlett neighbourhood plan.

This follows recent changes in national legislation which allow for an extra storey to be built on homes, without the need for planning permission, as long as it complies with certain criteria.

Ross Whear, head of planning and economic development at the council, said: “We’re updating the current restrictions to permitted development rights in order to protect the integrity of Hertsmere’s employment areas and the standard of residential accommodation available to our residents.”