The Department for Communities and Local Government has decided to change its decision to overrule a council’s Article 4 direction halting office-to-residential conversions without planning permission in certain areas.
Islington Council claimed the DCLG had admitted that it had “got its numbers wrong” when it justified its decision to block the direction.
In July the then Planning Minister, Nick Boles, cancelled the direction just days before Article 4 was due to come into force.
Boles said ministers had considered Islington’s further proposal for the Article 4 direction to apply to a reduced area (it had originally sought to cover the whole area), but had concluded – in light of the tests set out in national policy and guidance – that it remained “unacceptably expansive and unjustified”.
He added that ministers had taken into account the background of the significant need for new housing in London in particular when deciding to cancel the direction.
Boles claimed that the council had failed to deliver its housing targets over the period 2009 – 2013.
The authority disputed this, arguing that it had exceeded its overall housing target by 43% over this period.
“The DCLG has now accepted that it made ‘a mistake of fact’ by failing to take into account all the types of housing that the London Plan housing targets do,” Islington said.
Cllr James Murray, Islington’s executive member for housing and development, said: “No-one would deny that London needs new homes. We are one of the top boroughs nationally for building new homes – we’re actually building thousands of genuinely affordable homes for social rent.
“The government says its policy is about converting empty offices into homes. Yet in Islington, we can see the damaging effect this policy is having. We’re losing jobs but getting lots of one-bed and bedsit flats, with no affordable housing or other community benefit.”
Cllr Murray added: “I am pleased Eric Pickles accepts his Department made a mistake, and I hope this means we can now have a proper discussion about how we can protect jobs and provide decent, affordable homes in Islington.”
‘Flexible uses’ Article 4 Direction
On 11 July 2013, Islington Council published an Article 4 direction to remove PD rights which allow the change from A1 (shops), B1 (offices) and D1 (community uses) to temporary ‘flexible uses’. On 17 October 2013 Islington Council confirmed this Direction. The Direction came into force on 15 July 2014.
Office to residential Article 4 Direction
Islington Council had issued proceedings in the High Court to challenge the decision by the Secretary of State to cancel the council’s office to make a residential Article 4 Direction. The Secretary of State has now accepted a mistake was made in reaching his decision to cancel the Article 4 Direction and has told the council that he expects to cancel his cancellation direction by 11 September 2014. We understand that this has now taken place.
The Secretary of State has said that he will consider the council’s Article 4 direction again. The council will update its webpage with information about future developments.
How will an Article 4 Direction affect you ?
An Article 4 Direction does not affect the existing use of the property or any current planning permissions. However, it does reintroduce a requirement for planning permission which would have previously been given automatically through PD rights.
Certain forms of extension and changes of use will require approval or notification under the building regulations even if covered by Permitted Development Rights.