Permitted Development Rights and the revised NPPF: Article 4 directions

22 Jul 2021

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s national planning policies and how they are expected to be applied by planning authorities. On 20 July 2021, the Government released a revision of the NPPF (last updated in February 2019).
On 15 July 2021 the Government released its Build Back Better Streets Strategy, setting out its proposals for revitalising the High Street.  One of the main proposals were increased permitted development rights (PDRs).
Permitted development rights, Article 4 directions and changes made in the revised NPPF
Permitted development rights are a grant of legislative planning permission which allows certain development to be carried out without having to make a planning application. They are subject to conditions and limitations such as height, size or location and some still require a light touch planning application known as ‘prior approval’.  The Government has recently introduced a new set of PDRs which allow for the extension of existing buildings through the addition of 1-2 storeys and the demolition and reconstructing of unused or derelict buildings.
From the 1 August 2021, the Government is also introducing a PDR for a change of use from Class E to residential (where it meets various conditions).  Class E is the new Commercial, Business and Service Use Class which incorporates many of the previous A and B Class uses, but comprises the types of uses we would expect to see on the High Street.
This new PDR would apply to a significant number of High Street properties, leading the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee to release a report (22 July 2021) asking the Government to pause this PDR.  Whilst the creation of new residences would increase footfall across the High Street, the Committee is concerned about the long-term loss of commercial properties, and particularly ground floor units.
Local authorities themselves may be concerned about the impact of this PDR on their High Streets and town centres.  However, PDRs can be removed by limited means:
  1. A condition on a planning permission,
  2. A s106 agreement, or
  3. An Article 4 direction.
Planning conditions and s106 agreements would only apply where there is an existing planning permission incorporating these; they cannot be applied without an application in play.  The main method of removing or limiting PDRs is by Article 4 direction.
Article 4 directions
Under Article 4 of the General Permitted Development Order the local planning authority (or the Secretary of State) can withdraw specified PDRs. Article 4 directions can restrict the scope of PDRs in relation to a particular area and in relation to a particular PDR. Where an Article 4 direction is in place, a planning application will be required where otherwise the development would fall within PDRs.
The test for the use of Article 4 directions has been amended by the revised NPPF. Previously it was stated that the use of Article 4 directions should be limited to situations where it ‘is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of the area’.
The revised NPPF has imposed a much more stringent test where the development relates to a change from non-residential to residential (paragraph 53 of the NPPF). In this scenario the use of Article 4 directions should be limited to situations where it ‘is necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts’. Additionally, in all cases, Article 4 directions should be ‘based on robust evidence and apply to the smallest geographical area possible’.
These amendments to the NPPF limit the ability for local planning authorities to use Article 4 directions unless they have real justification and evidence for it; certainly the extent of land will now be under more scrutiny.
We wait to see whether the Government will pause or make amendments to the new PDR in light of the Committee’s findings, but would suggest that any developers looking to rely on the PDR apply for prior approval as soon as possible.  Local authorities should be considering making new Article 4 directions should start the process early to ensure their justifications are robust.

Further reading

Good Divorce Week - divorce and financial matters FAQs

In recognition of 'Good Divorce Week', we answer some frequently asked questions relating to divorce and financial matters
Read more Read

Choosing the right Family lawyer for you

DMH Stallard’s Family law experts, Natasha Slabas and Samantha Jago, talk to John Young about how we can help you if you are struggling with a legal issue and looking for a lawyer
Read more Read

The trials and tribulations of extortionate credit transactions

Frank Bouette explains the Court considerations when deciding whether a credit transaction should be set aside as extortionate
Read more Read

When does a director owe a primary duty to creditors?

The Supreme Court recently confirmed when a director’s duty to creditors comes into effect, if their company is in the ‘twilight’ zone of potential insolvency
Read more Read
  • Brighton - Jubilee St

    1 Jubilee Street


    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Brighton - Old Steine

    47 Old Steine


    East Sussex

    BN1 1NW

  • Gatwick

    Griffin House

    135 High Street


    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road



    GU3 1LR

  • Hassocks

    32 Keymer Road


    West Sussex

    BN6 8AL

  • Horsham

    Ridgeland House

    15 Carfax


    West Sussex

    RH12 1DY

  • London

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane


    EC4A 3BF

  • Make an enquiry

    Make an enquiry


    Or head to our Contact us page