Developers fight for their rights to convert offices to 200 flats above Milton Keynes railway station

Developers looking to convert 200 office units into flats above Milton Keynes Central railway station have appealed against a council decision to refuse their permitted development rights.

Milton Keynes Council planners have not disputed that Bournemouth-based company “Permitted Development No 13” has the right to convert the offices at Station House into flats but say they have not provided all the information they need to give prior approval.

Station House

Station House

Council planners made their decision to refuse approval for the site in Elder Gate on July 16 and within two days the developers lodged an appeal with the government’s Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate. A decision could take up to 26 weeks to issue, according to information on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

The issue of companies using permitted development rights to convert offices to flats, which were granted by the Government in amendments to a 2015 law, has caused concern around the country.

And in MK, the council leader, Cllr Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton), has referred to such conversion schemes as creating “poky flats.”

And Cllr Dan Gilbert (Cons, Loughton & Shenley) has also said he is “very concerned about its impact on CMK and our neighbouring ward of Loughton.” He had called for protection for the area, and the council considers the three buildings that surround Station Square to be what it calls “heritage assets.”

In a submission to the council’s planning department, the applicant’s agent, KR Planning, of the same Bournemouth address, said the council was falling short of housing targets.

Kieran Rafferty, of KR Planning, said: “The intended effect of the proposal is to increase housing supply. By encouraging development on brownfield land the proposal will help to reduce the pressure on greenfield sites.

“It will also promote the regeneration of commercial land and bring empty properties back into productive use.”

But council senior planning officer Duncan Law said in his decision notice: “The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the proposal would have an acceptable impact on: future occupiers of the development from noise of commercial premises, highway impacts of the development or contamination risks.”

Thames Valley Police had also commented as a part of the planning process that some aspects of the design and layout were “problematic in crime prevention design terms.”