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Guildford Borough Council

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017 - Part 1: Policies

Policy E3: Maintaining employment capacity and improving employment floorspace

Introduction

4.4.24 In 2013, temporary permitted development rights were introduced which enabled offices (B1(a)) to be converted to residential use (C3) use) without having to apply forthe need for planning permission. Applicants only needed had to apply to the Council for prior approval in relation to flooding, highways, transport and contamination impacts. It wasThe Government originally proposed that this these rights would expire after three years but they became permanent in April 2016. Also in April 2016, a A new three-year temporary permitted development right for the change of use from light industrial (B1c) to housingresidential came into force[1] at the same timehas also been created, up to a maximum floorspace of 500 sq m.

4.4.25 As a result of these permitted development rights, a significant amount of office floorspace has been lost, particularly in Guildford town centre. This is in addition to employment floorspace lost over the years because of the higher land values of residential use. As a result of these losses, and also the projected need for employment floorspace over the plan period, the policy seeks to protect floorspace to sustain and enhance employment capacity and to accommodate existing and future demandneed.

Policy E3: Maintaining employment capacity and improving employment floorspace

(1) Strategic and Locally Significant Employment Sites will be protected for either B1a and B1b use or B1c, B2 and B8 use in line with their designation in policy E1.

In order to sustain and enhance employment capacity (including land, floorspace and/or jobs):

(2) On Strategic and Locally Significant Employment Sites, employment floorspace will be protected and the loss strongly resisted. Redevelopment or Cchange of use to a non-employment use will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use (offices, research and development or industrial) for a continuous period of at least: two years

(a) two years (for a Strategic Employment Site); or

(b) 18 months (for a Locally Significant Employment Site)

prior to submission of a planning application.

employment floorspace will be protected and the loss resisted on the Locally Significant Employment Sites, which are defined in policy E1. Change of use will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use (offices, research and development or industrial) for a continuous period of at least 18 months

(3) Outside of the designated employment sites, we will protect employment floorspace will be protected in line with our the latest needs assessment and the loss be resisted outside designated employment sites. Redevelopment or cChange of use to a non-employment use will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use (offices, research and development or industrial) for a continuous period of at least 12 months prior to submission of a planning application.

(4) Once the period of comprehensive and active marketing is achievedcomplete, and shows proof of non-viability, any another suitable B class employment use should be considered, followed by any other employment generating use, before change of use to residential or other use with no on-going employment use will be permitted.

(5) The redevelopment of outmoded employment floorspace will be permitted to cater for modern business needs. The provision of improved ICT infrastructure will be encouraged in refurbished and redeveloped sites.

 

Definitions

4.4.26 Employment floorspace is that which is in B1a, B1b, B1c, B2 and B8 use class.

4.4.26a Evidence of active and comprehensive marketing is defined in appendix A2.

4.4.27 The evidence of active marketing should include information on;

evidence that the rental levels offered have been competitive (including the offer of renewal of lease to existing tenants at a reasonable market rate);

interest in the site/premises (including details of any offers submitted and reasons for prospective tenants not taking up space and how these problems have been addressed);

flexibility in space offered, including dividing up large areas of floorspace where this is possible and practical and alternative layouts; and

the history of marketing, agent(s) and media used (press articles and advertisements);

alternative marketing strategies, including management of the space by specialist third party providers.

4.4.28 It is proposed that a checklist will be developed to appraise evidence of marketing and to ensure a consistent approach is taken for all applications. This will be published as part of an SPD. The Council must be satisfied that the evidence received is robust and the information is presented in a way that is clear to Members, officers and the public.

4.4.29 Strategic Employment Sites and Locally Significant Employment Sites are defined identified in policy E1 and on the Policies Map.

4.4.30 The policy applies to all employment sites including small business units which are important for start-ups and SME (Small and Medium Enterprises).

4.4.30a The policy applies to all premises and land which is in B1a, B1b, B1c, B2 and B8 use class whether the premises or land is currently occupied or vacant.

Reasoned justification

4.4.31 The policyPolicy E3 seeks to sustain and enhance employment in the bBorough through the protection of sites as set out in the policy. It aims to protect Eemployment floorspace will be protected and the release of existing sites will be managed to ensure there is sufficient supply to accommodate existing and future demandneed. As set out in the policy a more flexible approach will be applied to the change of use in locations outside town centres and key existing employment locations, however as a significant number of sites are being lost through permitted development, the policy seeks to ensure existing and future demand need is accommodated.

4.4.32 There is no specific national guidance on an appropriate period for marketing with regard to offices, research and development or industrial sites but in order to retain sites and to meet projected needs, a site should have been adequately marketed through a commercial agent at a price that reflects market value (for current use) for a reasonable periodthe criteria set out above should be met. A requirement for evidence of two years active marketing is considered to be appropriate on the Strategic Employment Sites. This provides sufficient time to test the market and to allow for changes in market conditions. A sliding scale is considered to be appropriate for sites of lesser importance to the borough's overall employment land supply.

4.4.33 The policy will be implemented via the development management process.

Key Evidence

  • Employment Land Needs Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)(ELNA), 2015
  • Guildford Borough Economic Strategy 2013 - 2031 (Guildford Borough Council, 2013)

 

MonitoringIndicators

Indicator

Target

Data source

Net change in permitted and completed B1 (a, b, c), B2 and B8 floor space (sq m) in the

borough, Strategic Employment Sites and

Locally Significant Employment Sites

Net increase of 37,20036,100 - 47,20043,700 sq m B1a and B1b use class floorspace to 2033 2034 in the borough

Net increase of Industrial land (B1c, B2 and B8) to 2033 2034 in the borough

Planning applications and appeals and building completions data

Amount of employment floor space (sq m) lost to non-B class uses in the borough,

Strategic Employment Sites and Locally Significant Employment Sites

No employment floorspace lost on the Strategic Employment Sites and Locally Significant Employment Sites

Planning applications and appeals and building completions data

Number of employee jobs (total and by industry) in the borough

3,2004,100 additional B class to 20332034

Published data e.g. ONS Business Register Employment Survey (BRES)

 

1. Applies to planning applications received on or after 1 October 2017, for change of use from a maximum B1c floorspace of 500 sq m, and for which prior approval is granted before 1 October 2020. Development must be completed within 3 years of the prior approval date. [back]