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Restricting Permitted Development: Article 4 Directions and Heritage

Certain works that would normally require planning permission are permitted by the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) (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.

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. They are not necessary for works to listed buildings and scheduled monuments as listed building consent and scheduled monument consent would cover all potentially harmful works that would otherwise be permitted development under the planning regime. However, article 4 directions might assist in the protection of all other heritage assets (particularly conservation areas) and help the protection of the setting of all heritage assets, including listed buildings.

Article 4 directions may be used to require planning permission 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 part 11 of the GDPO.

Government has issued guidance on when and how to make an article 4 direction (2). It says that local authorities should consider making article 4 directions only in those exceptional circumstances where the exercise of permitted development rights would harm local amenity, the historic environment or the proper planning of the area.  

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