Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights

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Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights for changes of use from Class E uses to Class C3 (Residential) use.

We are asking for responses to the ‘making’ of an Article 4 Direction removing permitted development rights for changes of use from Class E uses to Residential (Class C3) use.

This is a legal process through which the council brings back the requirement for landowners to get planning permission for a specific type of development that is otherwise permitted development. This page and the supporting documents are written to make sure that we are following the correct legal requirements; as a result, some of the wording on this page and the supporting documents may be hard to understand if you do not have knowledge of the planning system.

The sections below explain some of the terms used and what this change will mean for most residents. If you have any questions after reading through this page, please send us an email at planmaking@towerhamlets.gov.uk.


What are use classes?

Use classes are categories that planners use to group together different types of activities or businesses that can take place in a building or on a piece of land. We use these categories to quickly and clearly set out what types of activities or businesses are allowed in a location or in a development, without having to list those types of businesses in detail.

On this page we talk about Class E, which is a very broad category that includes shops, restaurants, offices and some industrial activities, and Class C3, which is a very narrow category that refers to ordinary flats and houses (not including student housing, hotels, nursing homes or large houses of multiple occupation).

The full lists of the types of activities, businesses and uses that fall in each category are available here: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects/9/change_of_use


What is permitted development?

Certain types of development do not need planning permission. These include some small additions to houses, some structures that are near houses (such as some garden walls), and some types of change of use.

More detail on permitted development, including a full list of the types of development that you can carry out without applying for planning permission is available here: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200125/do_you_need_permission


What is an Article 4 Direction?

An Article 4 Direction removes a specific type of permitted development for a specific site or area, meaning you would need to apply for planning permission even though what you want to do falls under permitted development.

We usually use Article 4 Directions where a type of development could have a negative impact on a specific area; for example, extensions to houses that would change the appearance of conservation areas or historic buildings.

You can see all of the council’s current Article 4 Directions here: https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/planning_and_building_control/planning_policy_guidance/Article_4_Directions.aspx


Why we’re proposing this Article 4 Direction

In 2021, the national government brought in a new permitted development right, which means that changes of use from Class E (which includes shops, restaurants, offices and some industrial uses) to houses and flats (Class C3) no longer need planning permission.

Our evidence and studies done by the Greater London Authority show that this could have serious negative impacts on the borough’s economy. Because our house prices are much higher than prices for offices, shops and industrial space, this change encourages commercial landlords to change their buildings to houses and flats. This would mean a major loss of shops, offices and industrial uses, which are extremely important to our local economy.

This Article 4 Direction would return the requirement for landowners to get planning permission for those changes of use. When landowners apply for planning permission, council officers can look at the wider impacts of the proposal, including what they would mean for the overall supply of office or industrial space, or what the loss of a shop might mean for a town centre or shopping parade.

This Article 4 Direction would not apply across the borough. It would apply only to our town centres, neighbourhood parades, office sites and industrial sites. A map showing where this would apply is included in the supporting documents.


What this means for you

If you own commercial property in one of the areas outlined on the map, this Article 4 Direction means that you will need to apply for planning permission if you wish to change the use of your property from a Class E use to houses or flats.


How you can respond

Please send us an email to planmaking@towerhamlets.gov.uk with ‘Article 4’ in the subject line.

The deadline for responses is 23:59 on Wednesday 13th October 2021

Once the deadline has passed, we will present the Article 4 Direction to Cabinet alongside all responses, for them to confirm the Direction. If they confirm it, the Article 4 Direction will come into force on the 18th of August 2022.

Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights for changes of use from Class E uses to Class C3 (Residential) use.

We are asking for responses to the ‘making’ of an Article 4 Direction removing permitted development rights for changes of use from Class E uses to Residential (Class C3) use.

This is a legal process through which the council brings back the requirement for landowners to get planning permission for a specific type of development that is otherwise permitted development. This page and the supporting documents are written to make sure that we are following the correct legal requirements; as a result, some of the wording on this page and the supporting documents may be hard to understand if you do not have knowledge of the planning system.

The sections below explain some of the terms used and what this change will mean for most residents. If you have any questions after reading through this page, please send us an email at planmaking@towerhamlets.gov.uk.


What are use classes?

Use classes are categories that planners use to group together different types of activities or businesses that can take place in a building or on a piece of land. We use these categories to quickly and clearly set out what types of activities or businesses are allowed in a location or in a development, without having to list those types of businesses in detail.

On this page we talk about Class E, which is a very broad category that includes shops, restaurants, offices and some industrial activities, and Class C3, which is a very narrow category that refers to ordinary flats and houses (not including student housing, hotels, nursing homes or large houses of multiple occupation).

The full lists of the types of activities, businesses and uses that fall in each category are available here: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects/9/change_of_use


What is permitted development?

Certain types of development do not need planning permission. These include some small additions to houses, some structures that are near houses (such as some garden walls), and some types of change of use.

More detail on permitted development, including a full list of the types of development that you can carry out without applying for planning permission is available here: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200125/do_you_need_permission


What is an Article 4 Direction?

An Article 4 Direction removes a specific type of permitted development for a specific site or area, meaning you would need to apply for planning permission even though what you want to do falls under permitted development.

We usually use Article 4 Directions where a type of development could have a negative impact on a specific area; for example, extensions to houses that would change the appearance of conservation areas or historic buildings.

You can see all of the council’s current Article 4 Directions here: https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/planning_and_building_control/planning_policy_guidance/Article_4_Directions.aspx


Why we’re proposing this Article 4 Direction

In 2021, the national government brought in a new permitted development right, which means that changes of use from Class E (which includes shops, restaurants, offices and some industrial uses) to houses and flats (Class C3) no longer need planning permission.

Our evidence and studies done by the Greater London Authority show that this could have serious negative impacts on the borough’s economy. Because our house prices are much higher than prices for offices, shops and industrial space, this change encourages commercial landlords to change their buildings to houses and flats. This would mean a major loss of shops, offices and industrial uses, which are extremely important to our local economy.

This Article 4 Direction would return the requirement for landowners to get planning permission for those changes of use. When landowners apply for planning permission, council officers can look at the wider impacts of the proposal, including what they would mean for the overall supply of office or industrial space, or what the loss of a shop might mean for a town centre or shopping parade.

This Article 4 Direction would not apply across the borough. It would apply only to our town centres, neighbourhood parades, office sites and industrial sites. A map showing where this would apply is included in the supporting documents.


What this means for you

If you own commercial property in one of the areas outlined on the map, this Article 4 Direction means that you will need to apply for planning permission if you wish to change the use of your property from a Class E use to houses or flats.


How you can respond

Please send us an email to planmaking@towerhamlets.gov.uk with ‘Article 4’ in the subject line.

The deadline for responses is 23:59 on Wednesday 13th October 2021

Once the deadline has passed, we will present the Article 4 Direction to Cabinet alongside all responses, for them to confirm the Direction. If they confirm it, the Article 4 Direction will come into force on the 18th of August 2022.