Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's Article 4 Direction

Posted by Sara Hanrahan on
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced its intention to implement an Article 4 Direction in order to maintain the status quo over office to residential conversions.

In May 2013 national permitted development rights were amended to allow the change of use of offices to residential to be assessed through a "prior approval" process rather than the normal planning permission process.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea gained an exemption from these national permitted development rights, meaning that those individuals who wished to change their office into a residential building in the Borough were required to submit a planning application. This exemption is due to expire in May 2019.

The Council would therefore have to rely on the "prior approval" process when assessing these applications. They want to avoid this process as they are concerned that it would result in a "significant" loss of office premises.  Indeed, almost 50% of the largest local authorities in England found that these permitted development rights had a detrimental effect on the local borough, with Haringey Council particularly concerned with "long term economic viability".

The Council has consequently implemented a Borough-wide Article 4 Direction to ensure that the permitted development rights remain restricted and applicants are still required to submit an application for planning permission. In doing so, the Council believes that it will be able to control development so as to seek affordable housing in the Borough, and it is not alone as increasing numbers of London boroughs elect to implement an Article 4 Direction. Yet the cross-party organisation London Councils describes Article 4 Directions as a "cumbersome" tool for boroughs that are not always appropriate.

At first glance it may seem that a blanket policy such as that proposed fails to align with the Government's September Consultation Paper focusing on "right homes in the right places".  However, the Council may be correct in this instance as the drive for new homes must continue to be balanced against other economic needs.  London's continuing status as an innovative exciting 'world city' does not depend on growth alone but rather 'well managed' growth.

The Council will be consulting on this Article 4 Direction until Tuesday 24 October 2017 and the Direction is scheduled to come into force on 31 May 2019. 

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Sara specialises in urban redevelopment projects, particularly advising in relation to compulsory purchase and affordable housing schemes.

Sara Hanrahan
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