What is an Article 4 Direction? 

Permitted development rights are set out in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 [as amended], commonly known as “The Order”. 

If you aren’t sure what permitted development rights are, find out here before you read this section.

Broadly speaking, permitted development rights automatically apply throughout all parts of the country. 

However, The Order” also provides powers to local councils to restrict or remove permitted development rights from areas within their authority. These powers are described at Article 4 of “The Order”, hence the name “Article 4 direction”. 

Provided they have good reason, local councils can restrict or remove most permitted development rights from small or large areas, including the whole council area. 

Some common reasons for making Article 4 Directions include:

  • Protecting Conservation Areas – many councils will restrict the householder permitted development rights available in Conservation Areas, especially where they concern window replacements and extensions that would be likely to erode the special heritage value of the place;
  • Safeguarding the High Street and the local economy – many councils will restrict change of use permitted development rights where there is legitimate concern that areas of commercial importance and/or socioeconomic significance (such as Town Centre high streets) are at risk of substantial or total destruction; and
  • Preserving family homes – many councils will remove or restrict the right to convert normal family homes to HMOs. This is particularly the case where there is an undersupply of family homes or house prices are especially inflated. 

How do I find out if my property is subject to an Article 4 Direction?

“The Order” requires local councils to publicise Article 4 Directions when they are first made. This includes publicising the Article 4 Direction in a local advertisement and, unless the area is very large, individually notifying each known owner/occupier of a site affected by the Article 4 Direction. 

Many local councils publish details of all Article 4 Directions active in their area on the planning pages of their websites. However, they are not statutorily obliged to do so. 

If you are 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. Make sure you get a response in writing. 

Are there any other ways that permitted development rights can be restricted?

Yes, permitted development rights can also be restricted or removed by conditions attached to a consent granted on a planning application. 

When a planning application is approved, the council will issue a formal decision notice that provides details of the consent granted. 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 consent. Most planning consents are subject to at least one or two conditions. 

If there is good cause, the council may choose to attach a condition that serves to restrict or remove certain permitted development rights from the site. This condition will last forever unless you successfully apply to the council for its removal or variation. You can find out more about having planning conditions varied or removed here

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. 

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