Use the table of contents to find out more about Article 4 directions.


Article 4 directions relate to permitted development rights. Permitted development rights are described in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

Setting the scene

A wide range of developments are covered by permitted development rights, including:

  • certain domestic extensions – mainly rear and side
  • certain minor operations such as new fences and walls
  • certain building works on specified sites, including commercial, industrial and agricultural sites
  • certain changes of use, including agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses.

If a development is subject to a permitted development right, it means it already has planning permission. Consequently, it can be carried out without any need to apply for planning permission*.

*In some cases, however, a different type of planning application called a prior approval application is required. Click the button below to find out more about prior approval applications.

If you’re not sure what permitted development rights are, we recommend having a look at the following pages of our website before reading on.

Where do Article 4 directions come in?

Permitted development rights generally apply throughout the country.

However, local councils have powers to restrict or remove permitted development rights from sites or areas within their authority. These powers are described at Article 4 of the permitted development rights legislation. Because of this, we call the restrictions “Article 4 directions”. 

Local councils can restrict or remove most permitted development rights from small or large areas. This could even include the whole council area. The only requirement is that they must have a good reason for doing so.

Not sure who your local council is? Find out here:


Some common reasons for making Article 4 directions include:

  • Protecting Conservation Areas. Many councils will restrict the permitted development rights available in Conservation Areas to protect against the gradual loss of its special features or value. For example, Article 4 directions are frequently introduced to prevent historic windows from being replaced with UPVC units
  • Protecting the High Street and local industry. Many councils will restrict certain change of use permitted development rights where there is legitimate concern that High Streets or local industries are suffering. Their primary goal will normally be to hold onto as many retail and similar or complementary commercial uses as possible
  • Preserving family homes. Many councils will remove or restrict the right to convert normal family homes to HMOs. This is especially the case in popular and expensive urban areas where too many family homes have already been lost to subdivision.

Summing up…

In summary, an Article 4 direction removes or restricts one or more permitted development rights from a site or area, meaning planning permission is required. They are created by local councils to provide them with control over developments that would normally be permitted. They are only used in locations where this level of control is considered to be necessary. This might be, for example, because the area has a special built character or fulfils an important economic function.


Local councils must make Article 4 directions public when they are first introduced. This includes publicising the Article 4 direction in a local advertisement such as a local newspaper. Unless the area is very large, they should also individually notify each known owner/occupier of a site affected by the Article 4 direction. 

Some local councils publish details of their Article 4 directions on the planning pages of their websites. However, they are not obliged to do this. Therefore, you should never assume that no Article 4 directions exist in your area simply because you can’t find them online. 

If you’re not sure whether your property is affected by an Article 4 direction, you should contact your local council. You should not need to pay for this type of advice. We always recommend that you get their response in writing. 


Yes, permitted development rights can also be restricted or removed by conditions attached to a planning permission. 

Use of planning conditions to restrict permitted development rights

When a planning application is approved, the council will issue a formal decision notice that provides details of the permission. This will include the date of the decision, the address of the site and a description of the development approved. It will also contain any planning conditions applied to the permission, such as a time limit to begin the development (most commonly 3 years from the date of the decision).

If they have good reason to do so, your council can attach conditions to restrict or remove certain permitted development rights from the application site.

Which permitted development rights are commonly restricted in this way?

It is quite common, for example, for local councils to restrict or remove householder permitted development rights when they approve new housing sites in highly sensitive locations such as Conservation Areas and AONBs. This is because the design of the housing estate – including the style, height and position of garden boundaries, for example – will have been very carefully considered to avoid harm being caused to the sensitive area. Your local council will want to ensure the design and impact of the new housing estate is not made worse as a result of residents carrying out permitted developments, e.g. replacing low garden walls with tall fences.

In recent years, however, we’ve noticed that some councils consistently remove householder permitted development rights from new housing developments without good reason. This is inappropriate as permitted development rights should only be removed in exceptional circumstances. If you’ve been dealt a restrictive condition without good cause, you should consider making an application to vary or remove it.

You will have to comply with restrictive conditions of this nature forever unless you successfully apply to the council for them to be varied or removed. If the council refuses to vary or remove the condition, you will also have a right to appeal their decision. Click the button below to find out more about making an application to vary or remove planning conditions.

It is a good idea to check the planning history of your site to see if any conditions have been applied in the past that continue to affect your permitted development rights. 

Restrictions are written into the rights themselves

It’s also worth being aware that restrictions on permitted development are written into the rights themselves. For example, larger domestic rear extensions, two-storey domestic rear extensions and domestic side extensions are prohibited on land located within National Parks, the Broads, Conservation Areas or World Heritage Sites. Certain other domestic extensions are permitted in those areas, however.

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