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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 4s since the start of 2020.

National Planning Policy Framework

On 30 January 2021, the government began consultation on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework including limits on Article 4 directions for change of use to residential. We are considering our response.

Permitted Development consultation – Class E to residential use

From December 2020 to January 2021, the government consulted on proposals to permit changes of use from Class E to residential use without planning permission. Class E covers commercial, business and service use (including offices, restaurants, cafes, creches, doctors’ surgeries, gyms, light industrial premises and most shops). We opposed the government’s proposals.

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.

We asked for views about these changes and received 28 questionnaires in response. The base-size limits conclusions, but the responses we received showed support for control over the developments now permitted, and the size and standard of residential space from office conversions. Half of the responses received supported change of use without requiring planning permission between the commercial, business and service uses that are now contained within Use Class E. Respondents also made suggestions for how town centre recovery could be encouraged and supported.

Government consulted on a new permitted development for the change of use from Use Class E to residential use from December 2020 to January 2021. We opposed the government’s proposals.

Office to residential use

From 2013, the government introduced rights to convert office space to residential use without the need for planning permission.

This resulted in the loss of office space and inconsistent standards of accommodation in Enfield and we commissioned research on the level of threat to the local area from the permitted development. We started work to prepare a new Article 4 Direction to take away permitted development rights in the areas most affected. This was not put into action due to later legislation changes.


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.