Restricting Permitted Development: Article 4 Directions and Heritage

This page sets out what the General Permitted Development Order is, how article 4 directions relate to it and refers to government guidance on using article 4 directions.

General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) 2015

Certain works that would normally require planning permission are permitted by the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) (ref. 1). This is primarily because the works are of a scale or type that is generally not likely to have an unacceptable impact. The rules are the same across England and so inevitably cannot take account of local sensitivities. 

The GPDO 2015 is the principal order. The order sets out classes of development for which a grant of planning permission is automatically given, or which is available subject to the prior approval of the local planning authority. 

A number of permitted developments rights are curtailed in the case of listed buildings and conservation areas. Local planning authorities can also remove permitted development rights in a particular area by making an 'article 4 direction' (discussed below). Local planning authorities can remove permitted development rights associated with a specific building or piece of land through the use of planning conditions.  

Article 4 directions

An article 4 direction is made by the local planning authority. It restricts the scope of permitted development rights either in relation to a particular area or site, or a particular type of development anywhere in the authority’s area. Where an article 4 direction is in effect, a planning application may be required for development that would otherwise have been permitted development. Article 4 directions are used to control works that could threaten the character of an area of acknowledged importance, such as a conservation area.  

Article 4 directions can increase the public protection of designated and non-designated heritage assets and their settings.

Article 4 directions are not necessary to prevent works to listed buildings and scheduled monuments taking place without permission as listed building consent and scheduled monument consent would be required before any potentially harmful works could be carried out on such structures. In addition, certain permitted development rights do not apply to listed buildings or conservation areas. Article 4 directions may, however, help in the protection of heritage assets, particularly in relation to their setting and in relation to non-designated heritage assets.

Article 4 directions may be used to ensure planning applications are made for the demolition of a non-designated heritage asset (such as a locally listed building outside of a conservation area), by removing the demolition rights under Schedule 2, Part 11 of the GPDO. 

Government guidance

The government has issued guidance on when and how to make an article 4 direction (ref. 2). It says that local authorities should consider making article 4 directions only in those exceptional circumstances where the direction is necessary to protect local amenity or the well-being of the area. Restrictions on changes of use from a non-residential to residential use should be limited to situations where the direction is necessary to prevent 'wholly unacceptable adverse impacts'. In all cases, the direction should be based on robust evidence and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.

Guidance is also in place in relation to the removal of permitted development rights through planning conditions, which requires 'clear justification' (ref. 3)