Article 4 Directions

27 Jul 2021

Planning and Environment

Amended guidance has been inserted in relation to Article 4 Directions – the mechanism by which local planning authorities are able to withdraw permitted development rights.

Paragraph 53 now imposes a higher threshold for the making of a Direction which relates to change from non-residential to residential use. Paragraph 53 of the NPPF has long provided that Article 4 Directions should only be used where “necessary to protect local amenity or the well-being of the area.” This guidance continues to apply to all Article 4 Directions which do not relate to changes from non-residential to residential use.

However, in relation to changes from non-residential to residential use, paragraph 53 now specifies that Article 4 Directions should:

Be limited to situations where an Article 4 direction is necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts (this could include the loss of the essential core of a primary shopping area which would seriously undermine its vitality and viability, but would be very unlikely to extend to the whole of a town centre)

The 3rd bullet of paragraph 53 also now makes clear that all Article 4 Directions should “be based on robust evidence, and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.”

Clearly, new Article 4 Directions will be more difficult to justify and, in cases where they are justified, are likely to apply to relatively constrained geographical areas.

The biggest effect of the more restrictive approach is likely to be in relation to changes of use from office to residential. That restrictive effect will be all the more pronounced because, as readers may well be aware, existing Article 4 Directions restricting a change from offices to dwellinghouses under Class O of Part 3 of Schedule 2 will become obsolete by virtue of the introduction of a new class of permitted development right, Class MA, which permits a change from commercial, business and service uses to dwellinghouses (which came into force on 21 April 2021). Existing Article 4 Directions restricting Class O will apply to Class MA but only until 31st July 2022 (See Article 15 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021). Therefore, local planning authorities who wish restrict changes of use from commercial, business and service uses to dwellinghouses under Class MA will need to issue new Article 4 Directions, while ensuring that the more restrictive policy tests are met.


Jack Parker