The Ministerial Statement issued on July 1st sets out proposals to ensure that policy on Article 4 Directions is used in a highly targeted way to protect the thriving core of historic high street areas, but does not unnecessarily restrict the ability to deliver much needed housing through national permitted development rights. The new policy will apply to all Article 4 Directions. Formal changes were made to the National Planning Policy Framework in July 2021 and a new Paragraph 53 now reads:
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.
The new Paragraph aims to protect established retail areas without preventing the provision of housing. The policy of providing and supporting mixed and flexible high street uses remains and new Article 4 Directions should be applied only to the smallest of areas and ‘the irreducible core of a primary shopping area’. The statement expressly states that Local Authorities will need to have robust evidence to justify the Article 4 Direction and the area it covers and are required to notify the Secretary of State about new Article 4 Directions. All new Article 4 Directions will be scrutinised to ensure compliance with the new guidance.