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Article 4 Directions – Exemptions for the Exempt

Article 4 Directions – Exemptions for the Exempt

Owain Nedin 09 Feb 2018
This week, the City of London Corporation opened a consultation on a proposed non-immediate Article 4 Direction to remove the Class O permitted development right (change of use from office to residential) across the entire City. If approved, it will come into force on 31 May 2019, the day following the expiry of the City’s current exemption from the permitted development right by virtue of its status as Article 2(5) land – an ‘exempt’ status granted to only 17 local planning authorities.
If approved by the City’s members and assuming the Direction avoids a Secretary of State veto, it will mean a smooth transition from exemption to removal of the right. The Article 4 Direction and its timing are no real surprise. Since the amendments to the 2015 General Permitted Development Order in April 2016 made the permitted development right permanent and signalled an end to the exemptions under Article 2(5) after 30 May 2019, it seemed obvious that local authorities would seek to replace the exemptions with Article 4 directions (see previous blog post for more details).
Indeed the Mayor makes it clear that he supports Article 4 Directions in London ‘exempt areas’, noting:
To ensure that London’s key business locations are safeguarded, the relevant boroughs are developing a co-ordinated approach to introducing Article 4 Directions. The Mayor is providing strategic support to help the boroughs achieve this.”[1]
In fact this is one matter on which the current and previous administration share common ground - Boris Johnson having assisted the Boroughs in achieving exempt status previously.
Of the 17 local authorities with an exemption for part of their jurisdiction (with the exception of the City and RB Kensington and Chelsea, which both received full coverage exemptions), 11 were in London. And the City is not the first to make a proposed Article 4 Direction to replace the exemption. As the table below shows, based on a review of the relevant authorities’ websites, a further six local authorities have pending Article 4s[2].

Of the above, with the exception of East Hampshire, the pending Article 4 Directions appear to cover, at a minimum, the same areas covered by the current exemptions. In East Hampshire’s case, probably the most peculiar of all of the areas granted the original exemptions having been given exemption for 10 parishes (including significant amounts of residential land), they have slimmed down the Article 4 Direction area to include key employment locations only.
And based on the local authorities that have started the necessary consultation process, and on the dates of the Directions coming into force, it’s not clear that there has been any obvious ‘co-ordinated approach’ between the London Boroughs, as suggested by the Mayor.
Of the local authority areas yet to formally begin the process, there is still plenty of time, with over 12 months left until the exemptions expire. This allows sufficient time to make a non-immediate Article 4 Direction and it still seems likely that the remaining 10 local authorities will shortly begin their own consultations (something my colleagues have written a useful guide about here). However, for landowners with B1(a) office space in those areas, it may be worth monitoring the local authorities’ activities now, if the potential of a change of use to C3 residential is of interest.
If you have any questions in respect of the above, or require any advice or guidance on permitted development rights or Article 4 Directions, please do contact us.

[1][2] Westminster City Council are yet to begin their consultation but propose to introduce the Article 4 Direction