Article 4 Directions - Employment Areas

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Article 4 Direction - Changes of Use from Office / Light Industrial / Storage and Distribution to Residential

What is an Article 4 Direction?

National planning rules allow many changes of use as ‘Permitted Development’. A planning application is not required for permitted development. Where it has good reason, the Council has a local planning power - a Direction under Article 4 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 - to remove permitted development rights.

Further information on permitted development rights and Article 4 Directions can be found here -

Why is the Council proposing to use Article 4 Directions to control changes of use from Office/Light Industrial/Storage and Distribution to Residential?

Opportunities for local businesses to find suitable premises are being significantly reduced as a result of developers using permitted development rights to convert business premises to residential. More information on changes of use of business premises to residential is available in the Council’s monitoring report.

Authority's Monitoring Report 2016

The St Albans Chamber of Commerce has expressed their concern about the increasing number of high quality business premises being converted to housing. The Chamber and the wider local business community supports the principle of this approach, with the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, David Clarke, stating that the Chamber “strongly support the Council’s attempts to protect office and business space in key areas of the City”.

Where are the proposed Article 4 Direction areas?

The Council has decided to use Article 4 directions in this way, but only in the most strategically important employment locations in the District:

Local Businesses and Services

- District Local Plan Review (DLPR) Employment Area (EMP) 1 Coldharbour Lane (remaining)
- DLPR EMP 3 Southdown Industrial Estate
- DLPR EMP 8 Porters Wood/Soothouse Spring
- DLPR EMP 10 Alban Park
- DLPR EMP 12 Brick Knoll Park (part east of Ashley Road)
- DLPR EMP 15 North Orbital Trading Estate

Strategic Office Locations

- St Albans City station
- St Albans City core
- St Albans Abbey Station

See below for further details on each Direction including the maps of these areas.

Can I have a say on the proposed Article 4 Directions?

To introduce an Article 4 Direction the Council must follow a statutory procedure, which allows any interested party to make representations.  The initial publicity for the Direction and the Notice to affected parties triggers a consultation period (in this case 8 weeks).  The Council will carefully consider the consultation response and decide whether or not to confirm the Direction.  The Government (Secretary of State) has a discretionary power to intervene and determine the decision for the Council.

Further details on the notification and consultation can be seen below.

What happens if an application is made for a change of use to residential in these Article 4 Direction Areas?

Once the Directions come into force, planning applications for change of use to residential in the areas identified above will be required and will considered against the following (Local) Development Plan policies:

St Albans City and District 1994 Local Plan Review (DLPR)

Policy 19 Overall Employment Strategy, p47 (extracts)

(i) “Level of employment
To provide sufficient land and floorspace to cater for full employment and provide for different kinds of employment use”

(ii) “Employment Areas
To encourage a range of employment uses in the areas defined in Policy 20”

(iv) “Expansion of Local Firms
Account will be taken of the needs of local firms, though proposals should be consistent with other policies in the Plan”

Policy 20 Development in Employment Areas, p48-52

“Within the employment areas and employment development sites… [listed on pages 50-52 of the DLPR] other uses such as housing, leisure and shopping [are] not acceptable”.

Policy 23 Business Use Development, p54-57

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) -

Relevant paragraphs are: Paragraph 17, 21, 22, 23, 160 and 161.

The effect of these policies is that in the areas covered by the new Article 4 directions priority will be given to retention of employment land and premises.

What are the next steps?

The Council has consulted on its intention to implement Article 4 Directions. The deadline for all comments on the proposed Article 4 Directions was 5pm on 17 May 2017.

Article 4 Directions are a local statutory power, subject to specific consultation and decision requirements.  The Council will make its decision on whether to confirm the Directions after taking account of local consultation outcomes and the Government’s response.   

The Article 4 Directions are non-immediate. This means any Direction cannot come into force until 12 months from the notification date.

Further updates will be posted on this web page as the process moves along.

Where can I find out more?

Further information on the Article 4 Directions (including the areas covered and the permitted development rights withdrawn) and the supporting evidence for the Council’s decision to serve them, can be found at the links and downloads below.

Economic Development and Employment Land Availability Assessment Technical Report 2016 -

The relevant part of the above report can be found at Section 4.8 from pg 212.

October 2016 Planning Policy Committee Report / Item 7 -
Employment Areas - Article 4 Direction - Report to Planning Policy Committee 11 October 2016 

Date of last review: 31 July 2017