London firms struggling for premises as a result of planning rules. Enter, Virtual Offices.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Greater London was calling for the Mayor of London and candidates in the 2016 elections to commit to improving the supply of commercial premises for small firms in the capital.

Words by Julian Guassardo

Is the solution to avoid costs and bureaucracy of renting physical offices by getting an affordable Virtual Office in prestigious cities?

Increasing numbers of small businesses in London are struggling to retain their London premises due to the problems caused by ‘Permitted Development Rights', which allow landlords to switch business property to residential housing. The FSB had called on the mayor and ministers to prepare a review.

In a poll of its London members, FSB found that over half see it as critically important for business property costs (including rent, rates and availability) to be urgently reformed.

The current relaxation of planning restrictions is a growing problem disadvantaging local economies by driving up business costs and undermining London's status as a global, competitive city for SMEs to start-up and flourish in.

The FSB wants to see Ministers protect small businesses who face termination of their tenancy by landlords exploit high residential property values.

Not enough is done to recognise the role of small businesses in London’s international profile. As the global financial centre of the world, people naturally assume London’s status is solely thanks to the big corporates it plays host to. But as 99 per cent of UK business is small to medium sized, it’s essential that the government and the public stay attuned to the importance of keeping smaller enterprises going.

If SMEs are being forced out of London the government must crack down on the inflated London property market and landlords who abuse their positions by capitalise on the burgeoning ‘empty residential property market’.

Affordable Virtual offices in London that enable SMEs to operate centrally without the costs of physical premises may well be the answer as the market bubble continues.