49 Moxon Street - Conversion of Warehouse to 107 Flats (objection June 2019)

PLANNING APPLICATIONS 19/3083/PNO and 19/3117/PNO : 49 MOXON ST.

This is an objection from Barnet Residents Association

The application is based on the claim that on ‘the balance of probability’ the building has been used as offices. We contend this assertion is incorrect as both historically and currently the building has been used primarily as light industrial/warehousing/storage, and thus will not qualify for conversion to residential under the class O of the permitted development Order of 2015/16 which specifies that only B19a) offices qualify

The Entran Risk Assessment document included in the application states that the building is currently used a warehouse. A visual inspection will readily confirm this, certainly for the rear section. The document also refers to a plan dated 1983 saying it was a ‘two large warehouse style developments. No significant changes are noted to the present day’, adding that the property was used as an MOT garage 2012 to 2015’. The site is indeed made of two co-joined buildings. The front building of three storeys includes an element of office space (some 40%) and the remainder consists of windowless rooms and should therefore only be suitable for storage. The rear building is a double-height windowless warehouse currently divided into a number of separate storage units.

The 2009 planning application refers to mixed use B1/B2 when occupied by Hadley Green Garage, who said approx. 60% would be office/storage and 40% for cars. This would accord with the approx. floor space of the two buildings as the front building is clearly incapable being used for vehicles (except for the entrance and loading bay/MOT bay). However the application document in 2009 states that 710sqm of space would be converted from B1(c) light industrial to B2. This amount of apace would approximate to the whole area of the rear building and the entrance/loading bay to the front building.

From all of this we would contend that insofar as the B1 definition applies historically it was primarily if not wholly B1(c) and not B1(a) as claimed by the applicant.

The Existing Use Plan included with the application describes all the rooms in the three storey block as offices, even though one part features a vehicle entrance and a loading bay, and most of the rooms are windowless, so could only be used for storage. The Plan describes the storage units in the rear building as offices. It is evident this in incorrect considering current use, and the absence of heating, power, natural light and adequate artificial lighting indicate that this rear building has never been suitable for office use. The plan also describes the basement car park as office parking. It may be capable of this, but the signage indicates the area is leased to Hadley Hospital. The only parking evident for use by no 49 is a small area near the office entrance that may take 4/5 cars, indicating that actual office use is low.

As amended in 2016 the Permitted Development Order indicates that qualifying for conversion is now dependent on current use. The B1(a) office use is only a small proportion of the total area. Whilst some storage ancillary to office use is normally permitted, the extent of the storage areas in the two buildings indicates that it could not all be storage supporting the office activity. Indeed storage availability has been advertised as separate to office use. Current use is therefore a mix of B1/B8, and thus the property should not qualify for conversion to residential under the provisions of class O.

To provide the proposed accommodation at first floor level it will be necessary to construct a mezzanine floor. There are fire escapes to all sides on the ground floor but there will be none on this newly constructed section, so that may necessitate adaptations to the building. To provide residential units where the loading bay and vehicle entrance are located will also necessitate adaptations to the outside wall. We are not able to judge at what point these adaptations might constitute new construction and thus disqualify the building from being regarded as a 'conversion' as specified in the 2015 order.