CARIDON Property Group has been accused of cramming ‘vulnerable people’ into ‘rabbit hutch’ flats by politicians and officials in Harlow.
Since residents were allowed to move into the building in April 2018, there has been an increase in crime in the area. The ‘Police.UK’ website reported 21 violent or sexual offences in January 2019 in comparison with the three violent or sexual offences reported in the previous year before the conversion from offices.
In January 2013 the government proposed changing the law so that planning permission would not be needed for office-to-residential conversions but offered local authorities the option to apply for exemption from these Permitted Development rights. Following a cabinet meeting on March 28 2019, Harlow Council agreed to seek Article 4 Directions for industrial areas of the town including; The Pinnacles, Templefields, the Burnt Mill Industrial area adjacent to Harlow Town Railway Station and in Harlow Town Centre. The introduction of Article 4 Directions, would see landowners having to go through the normal full planning application process, which the council will have greater control over.
MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, was quoted in the Guardian as labelling the office-to-home conversions “a disaster.”
Caridon Property Group is responsible for the two biggest office-to-home conversions in Harlow, Templefields House and Terminus House. These flats are allocated to people in ‘challenging situations’ and have been subject to controversial debate over the number of vulnerable people, including children, in such a small space.
A spokesman for Caridon Property said, “By making our homes more compact, we can help house more people. Compact living has been recognised as one of the potential solutions to the housing crisis, which is why the Mayor of London is backing Pocket Living, which helps first-time buyers get on the housing ladder by offering smaller-than-average homes at a discount.
“We have found the tone of some of the media coverage of our buildings and residents to be disappointing, a sentiment we know many of our tenants share too.”