Nearly 100 flats could be created ‘out of thin air’ in a Hayes town office block – and new laws mean planners have less reason to refuse the bid.

Galliard Homes wants to convert floors two to eight of Trident House – formerly the headquarters of car hire company Avis – into 98 studio apartments.

But the application for the building at the corner of Station Road and Clayton Road falls under ‘prior approval’ rules, and is therefore exempt from the rigorous planning process.

Chairman of the Hayes Town Partnership, David Brough, has said he is concerned that the town centre is already under pressure from the large number of homes being built near Hayes and Harlington rail station, as developers are attracted by the arrival of Crossrail’s services in the town in 2018.

Within a short distance from Trident House is the completed High Point Village of 600 flats. On nearby Blyth Road will be the Old Vinyl Factory, 500-plus flats, and an 11-storey block with 120 flats at its eastern end, closest to the town.

Blyth Road resident Jim Gabb, 66, said: “Where the hell is everyone going to park?

“There is building going on all along my road, and they will make the Nestle factory into homes too because what else are they going to do with it? I know people have got to live somewhere, but this would be too much I think.

“The existing residents are just getting swamped.”

A transport assessment carried out on behalf of Galliard Homes in support of the Trident House proposal states there would be enough parking, and road safety would not be compromised. It is also argued that there would be fewer car journeys compared with office use.

Prior approval in effect fast-tracks residential conversion of offices, house extensions and other building use changes, so long as it can be shown that there would be no negative impacts in three key areas; transport, highways and on-site flooding and contamination risks.

The planning authority is not required to take into account matters such as the overlooking of neighbouring properties or the quality of the accommodation, nor can it request planning gain money – to go towards public services such as schools and health as a condition – as is common with new developments.

And if the council does not determine the project within 56 days, it automatically goes ahead.

The law amendment was introduced by the government in May last year for a three-year period, to stimulate the economy and address the housing shortage.

Mr Brough believes prior approval ‘makes a mockery of the planning process’.

“Because of the speeded up timetable there is no chance for local people to comment, and even if they did, Hillingdon Council’s planning committee has virtually no powers to stop developments that will have a negative impact on the local area,” he said.

“Of greatest concern is the fact that developers can create more homes out of thin air, and then have no responsibility for contributing to the costs of providing extra school places or health services.”

A consultation on Trident House is under way and residents have until Monday, May 5, to respond.

To take part, visit, click on planning search, and enter 3151/APP/2014/1239 in the reference box. Then click ‘enter comment’.

Galliard Homes did not reply to Gazette requests for a comment.