Prominent offices on a Peterborough business park could be converted into 96 flats

Plans have been drawn up to turn prominent offices on a Peterborough business park into a block of apartments.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 4:30 am
Yorkshire Building Society offices in Peterborough.

The proposal involves the conversion of the Yorkshire Building Society offices at Peterborough Business Park, in Lynch Wood, into 96 two-bedroom flats with 339 on-site parking spaces.

The offices are currently on the market and are owned by the building society, which is in the process of relocating its 154 staff to new offices in Orton Southgate.

The bid to secure the green light for the development has been carried out under a relatively new change to planning regulations.

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A prior approval for a change of use application to turn the offices into flats has been submitted to Peterborough City Council by Simon Machen on behalf of the Brightfield Group, of Suttons Lane, Deeping Gate.

Since 2013, the conversion of commercial premises to dwellings is considered to be a permitted right, which does not require a formal change of use planning application.

Instead, using a prior approval request a developer only needs approval for specified elements of the development with the local authority unable to consider any other matters when considering the proposal.

In a statement to the council, Mr Machen, of development consultancy Barmach, says: “The site is located within walking distance of a wide range of amenities and extensive employment opportunities, minimising the need for travel. There are bus stops close to the site.

Coun Julie Howell. EMN-180901-215127009

“It is not considered that use of the property as apartments will lead to any material increase in traffic or any adverse impact on the local highway network.

“Indeed, the proposal is likely to generate less traffic than the existing office use during peak periods with trips no longer concentrated in those peaks but distributed throughout the day.

“Furthermore, the impact of Covid-19 is likely to result in a significant increase in the number of people working from home in both the short and long term with a consequential decrease in vehicular activity in the locality.”

However, the proposals have triggered objections from about 16 city residents who warn that the local school and health centre are already at over capacity, apartments will put more traffic on to already busy roads, the business park should be kept for employment uses and that flats might deter other companies from moving into the area.

Councillor Julie Howell, a representative for Orton Waterville, said: “So far, the reactions I’ve received from local residents have been mixed.

“Lynch Wood has always been a business park, and there are concerns about what the development could mean in terms of both traffic and local character.

“Some residents have asked me what the council intends to do by way of improvements to local infrastructure, including school provision, and local roads.

“Other residents have commented to me that this is a sign of the times, as Covid-19 means the demand for office space is now less than it was, while the need for housing continues to increase.

She added: “However, it is not clear whether it will be the kind of accommodation that Peterborough needs or will just be more expensive buy-to-lets that will put additional pressure on local infrastructure.”

A spokesman for Yorkshire Building Society said: “We will be selling the Lynch Wood site, but we don’t have a timescale for this at this stage.

“As the Society has been supporting people into their own homes for more than 150 years, a planned conversion of our former main office in Peterborough into flats would be seen as a fitting use of the building.”