My Local Authority Search shows that my Property has an Article 4 Direction. What is it and Should I be Worried?

An Article 4 direction is made by a local planning authority in the United Kingdom and exceptionally may be subject to intervention by the government. It serves to restrict permitted development rights, which means that a lot of the things people do to their land or houses without planning permission and often take for granted, are brought into the realms of planning consent. It does not in itself prohibit any action but means that a landowner is required to seek planning consent whereas without the direction this would not be necessary.

An Article 4 direction is not a conservation designation as such. It is a statement made under the Town and Country Planning Acts, specifically the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. The direction removes all or some of the permitted development rights on a site. For example, it could stop a landowner from holding car boot sales on their land for 14 days per year—a right which they would otherwise have—or could restrict a householder from converting a property into multiple flats.

There are certain permitted development rights that cannot be withdrawn by an Article 4 direction. These exemptions are to ensure permitted development rights related to national concerns, safety, or maintenance work for existing facilities cannot be withdrawn.

Article 4 directions were in the past a rarely used instrument which was not particularly effective, and was difficult to apply as it always required the approval of the Secretary of State. The 1995 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order made significant improvements to the process, and since that time the use of Article 4 directions has increased.

If you are planning on making alterations to your property in an area with an Article 4 Direction, you are advised to seek the advice of the Local Authority before carrying out any works. Depending upon the nature and scale of the works will depend on whether formal planning permission would be needed. Any correspondence with the Local Authority is best made in writing so that you have a record to show any prospective purchasers when you come to sell the property.


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