Changes of Use from Office / Light Industrial / Storage and Distribution to Residential – Article 4 Directions

Last year, we served non-immediate Article 4 Directions on all 13 of our employment areas (including Locally Significant Employment Sites). 

The directions have now been formally confirmed and came into effect on Monday 27 April. This means that all changes of use from B class to C3 residential, within these designated areas, will require the submission of a formal planning application.

The purpose of these Article 4 directions is to restrict ‘permitted development rights’ which allow for offices, light industrial and storage or distribution buildings to be converted into housing accommodation without the express need for planning permission. 

The changes were agreed by our Executive in March 2019 and apply to our main employment sites. This was followed by the introduction of non-immediate Article 4s for a 12 month period starting in April 2019.

The Government introduced additional permitted development rights in 2013 and 2016, initially for a temporary period only, to allow the conversion of offices and other commercial buildings into housing through a “prior approval” process.   Under the prior approval process, it is only necessary to show that a proposal is acceptable having regard to transport and highways, contamination risks, flood risk and noise impact and they are deemed then to have approval to convert the building. 

Under this legislation, we are unable to consider other matters such as whether the site is in an area protected for commercial activities, whether the building is vacant, the standard of living accommodation or whether any affordable housing will be provided.  The prior approval process can lead to the displacement of existing businesses and we consider that proposals to convert commercial premises into housing should require the submission of a planning application.

The Article 4 directions did not take effect immediately but 12 months after the date on which they were made in April 2019.  This allowed for a period of public consultation to be undertaken and the need for any changes to be considered.



Response to this consultation closed on Friday 7 June 2019. Responses to this consultation can be viewed in our Consultation Portal.

For other Article 4 directions such as those affecting conservation areas, please visit: Article 4 Directions