Higher Threshold to be Applied to Change of Use Article 4 Directions

09th July 2021

MHCLG Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has published a Written Ministerial Statement setting out measures for the future application of Article 4 directions affecting the new permitted development right Class MA. Class MA allows for the change of use from the Commercial, Business and Service use (Class E) to residential (Class C3). Jenrick commented that the new measures are designed to ensure that Article 4 directions are used in highly targeted ways to protect the thriving core of historic high street areas.

Before the end of the year paragraph 53 of the National Planning Policy Framework will be revised as below to provide the specific circumstances where Article 4 Directions are deemed appropriate: –

The use of Article 4 directions to remove national permitted development rights should:

  • where they relate to change from non-residential use to residential use, 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)
  • in other cases, be limited to situations where an Article 4 direction is necessary to protect local amenity or the well-being of the area (this could include the use of Article 4 directions to require planning permission for the demolition of local facilities)
  • in all cases, be based on robust evidence, and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.

Edgars opinion: This statement is another step in the Government’s strive to revise planning legislation with a view to encourage a greater use flexibility for the country. Through the recent revision of the Use Class Order (introducing Use Class E which by itself allows for the transition of formerly differentiated use classes such as retail, restaurants and offices), introduction of permitted development right Class MA (to enable Class E uses to change into a residential use more easily) and now the introduction of the above limitations on the application of Article 4 directions, the Government is committing to planning future which seeks to address the challenges of the pandemic and other high street threats through land-use flexibility.

It is also interesting to note that the statement specifically states that the purpose of Article 4 directions is to protect historic high street areas. This inevitably raises questions in respect of whether Article 4 directions will be softened on non-historic high streets and employment sites moving forward. If so, there are further questions as to how Councils may be able to safeguard key non-residential uses in the future.

Back to news