Government shuts down Islington’s Article 4 loophole holding up development

Ministers have closed a loophole imposed by councils aimed at preventing buildings being converted from office to residential use.

Planning minister Nick Boles today said:

“We will act to provide certainty and confidence in our change of use reforms.”

Changes to permitted development rights were made last year by communities secretary Eric Pickles. But a number of Labour councils opposed them and subsequently lost their legal battles to have the rules overturned in court.

Since then, councils including Islington have imposed Article 4 directives, rarely used planning instruments which overrule permitted development rights, to try and scupper development.

Earlier this year planning minister Nick Boles said:

“The London borough of Islington and Broxbourne borough council have applied their directions disproportionately.

“Ministers are minded to cancel article 4 directions which seek to reimpose unjustified or blanket regulation, given the clearly stated public policy goal of liberalising the planning rules and helping provide more homes.”

Charles Mills, planning partner at Daniel Watney, a bespoke full service London agency, said:

“This will be welcomed by developers as these Article 4 directives essentially prevented them carry out office-to-residential conversions under permitted development rights. It is somewhat ironic that Islintgon, which is in dire need of new homes, was one council deliberately holding up new development off the back of political grandstanding.”