Residential Approval in Article 4 Areas

PD and prior approval rights to change from commercial to residential use are widely known about in the property industry, certainly much more so than in 2013, when first introduced.

Although there are still many opportunities that might financially stack on this basis, a lot of sites do not, as vendors already price-in the ‘hope value’ to their asking prices.

The need to obtain full planning in some cases for a change of use does put off a lot of SME developers who would rather stick to PD or prior approval strategies, and this in turn creates more opportunity for those developers ‘in the know’ and prepared to take on these challenges to unlock their potential.

Checking for Article 4 Directions

Article 4 Directions[1] are used to control works that could threaten the character of an area of acknowledged importance, such as a conservation area, but are also used to control changes of use where the Council might be concerned about the harm that might arise from the loss of certain uses. Article 4 Directions can increase the public protection of designated and non-designated heritage assets and their settings.

When such a Direction has been made, then prior approval or PD must be obtained before the Direction comes into force (Article 4(2)).

Therefore, if a Direction comes into force before the end of 56 days of a prior approval application, or before the agreed extension period on such an application, then the application fails automatically; even if the application was refused before 56 days expires, an appeal is submitted, and the Direction comes into force before the appeal is determined.

It is important when reviewing whether a site is covered by an Article 4 Direction to check the following:

  • Location: is the site within the area of the direction outlined in red (a map will accompany the Direction).
  • Extent of affected uses:  the Direction might not extend to all uses covered by some PD rights (the London Borough of Waltham Forest made an Article 4 Direction against Class M rights but limited only to shops, so PD still remained for takeaways, betting shops and launderettes).
  • Date confirmed/ immediate: for a Direction to come into force, it will have to carry two signatures – the date on which it is made and the date on which it is confirmed (e.g. see current Directions for Hackney CAZ and Waltham Forest relation to Class MA rights).

Most Article 4 Directions will not come in immediately but might typically be made about 12 months before they come into force.  However, a Council can make an Article 4 direction with immediate effect but this has to be subject to strict requirements, will automatically expire after 6 months if not confirmed before then and the Secretary of State can modify or cancel any such Direction.

[1] Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2016 (‘the GPDO’) provides the legal authority for the Secretary of State to issue a Direction under this power to withdraw PD or prior approval rights for specified changes of use.

DRK Planning Ltd is a multi-disciplinary planning and development consultancy practice founded by David Kemp. With more than 20 years of experience in planning consultancy. DRK Planning provides a diverse range of expertise, adding value to owners and businesses through a wide range of property services.

If you have an enquiry about Class MA – email info@drkplanning.co.uk we’re happy to discuss your project in an initial brief introductory call.