Article 4 Directions

Certain types of land use are grouped together in use classes. Planning permission is usually required to change between use classes. Councils can’t use Article 4 Directions to restrict changes within the same use class.

Government has made several significant changes affecting permitted development and Article 4 Directions since the start of 2020.

National Planning Policy Framework (July 2021)

The Government adopted proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework related to Article 4 Directions. Paragraph 53, which deals with Article 4 Directions, has raised the bar for local authorities to secure Article 4 Directions. Paragraph 53 requires Article 4 Directions removing permitted development rights (e.g. allowing changes to residential) to be targeted, fully justified, restricted to the smallest geographical area possible and robustly evidenced.

Use Class E and Permitted Development

On 1 September 2020, a new Use Class E came into force which brought a number of previously separate uses into a single use class. Government changes to planning legislation meant that our planned Article 4 Direction to control changes from office to residential use was no longer viable.

From the end of August 2020, two new permitted developments came into force relating to upward extension of buildings and redevelopment of certain types of vacant commercial sites for flats.

The new Class MA rights took effect from 1 August 2021. It applies to buildings that have been in commercial, business and service use for two years and have been vacant for three continuous months before the application for prior approval. There is a 1500-square metre limit on the floorspace that can be switched to residential use in any building.


We will continue to explore options if the proposed changes are introduced and will update this page as appropriate.

Change of use to a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

If you're considering changing a residential dwelling (in use class C3) to an HMO (in use class C4), you will need to apply for planning permission. This is because we have withdrawn permitted development rights for this type of development through an Article 4 Direction (PDF).

Conservation areas

To protect particularly important features in a conservation area, we may issue an Article 4 Direction. This means that if you're planning any development, you will have to submit a planning application for certain works that would not normally require it. You will find links to Article 4 Directions in the relevant conservation area pages.