Councillors in Milton Keynes have approved an application to extend and convert an office building to residential, rather than see a Permitted Development (PD) scheme instead.

Urban Village already has prior approval to convert Westminster House in Avebury Boulevard to 133 flats but has also applied, through the normal planning process, to add three floors and convert the extended building to 237 one and two bedroom Build-to-Rent flats.

Milton Keynes City Council’s planning committee agreed at its November 3 meeting that it was better to accept some s106 contributions along with a five per cent proportion of affordable homes, which the planning application proposed, rather than the lack of benefits the fallback PD scheme would offer if they were to refuse it.

Officers had recommended approval as the better option than the PD scheme which had been granted before the city’s Article 4 Direction had come into force.

Councillors were also unhappy at the number of parking spaces (46), which several members felt was insufficient.

Cllr Shanika Mahendran, who took over as chair of the committee from Cllr Mick Legg who stood down at the start of the meeting, told members: “I don’t think this is an application that is ideal with the lack of affordable housing and parking, but it’s what we’ve got and the alternative is we don’t get that s106 and we don’t get that affordable housing.”

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