Last edited 20 Jul 2021

Article 4 direction

Generally it is up to a local planning authority to decide whether to allow a particular development or not. However, in England and Wales, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 enables central government to permit certain types of developments known as permitted developments. Permitted developments do not require approval from the local planning authority as permission is granted by the Order. Permitted developments generally relate to minor changes to existing properties.

However, local planning authorities are able to remove permitted development rights to protect the character of a particular area by issuing an article 4 direction. Typically article 4 directions are used where the character of an area of acknowledged importance could be threatened by a particular type of development. An article 4 direction can cover one or more properties and one or more types of development.

Article 4 directions are most frequently applied to withdraw permitted development rights in conservation areas. Here, they are commonly used to withdraw permitted development rights for developments that front a 'relevant location', and might restrict developments such as; enlargement, improvement or alteration of a dwelling, altering a gate, painting a façade or installing satellite dishes. A 'relevant location' refers to a highway, waterway or open space. These directions, and directions used to withdraw permitted development rights affecting listed buildings, (such as development in the curtilage of a listed building - the development of listing buidings themselves is controlled by the The Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990) do not require approval by the secretary of state.

Directions that relate to developments in conservation areas that do not front a relevant location require approval by the secretary of state, as do directions withdrawing permitted development rights affecting buildings that are not in a conservation area and do not affect listed buildings (typically these directions are used to restrict temporary developments on a site). The Secretary of State has the power to modify or cancel the order within 28 days.

An article 4 direction does not mean that a particular type of development cannot be carried out, only that it is not permitted without planning permission.

Permitted development rights should not be withdrawn without clear justification, and certain developments (such as work by statutory undertakers) cannot be affected. In addition, the National Planning Policy Framework states that, 'The use of Article 4 directions to remove national permitted development rights should be limited to situations where this is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of the area (this could include the use of Article 4 directions to require planning permission for the demolition of local facilities).' And that, in relation to communications infrastructure, local planning authorities should not '…impose blanket Article 4 directions over a wide area or a wide range of telecommunications development…'

To find out whether a property is affected by an article 4 direction, you can ask the local planning authority.

In May 2013, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 came into force, making changes to permitted development rights. These amendments include making it easier to change between certain use classes, and permitting larger extensions to domestic and commercial premises. As a result, local authorities have introduced article 4 directions, in particular to prevent change of use class from office to residential use. It has yet to be seen whether the Secretary of State will allow these directions to stand.

NB on 14 Oct 2013 in response to a question by Zac Goldsmith about powers to act against the proliferation of betting shops in a local area, Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, stated 'Local planning authorities can issue an ‘Article 4' direction, in consultation with the local community, which removes permitted development rights and ensures that where there is a change of use a planning application is required.' (ref)

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