Article 4 Direction in Reading to Restrict Residential Development

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Article 4 Direction will come into play in Reading to restrict various permitted development rights

Policy & Legislation
South East
Author Jonathan Jarman
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Reading Borough Council has put in place a non-immediate ‘Article 4’ Direction which will remove certain Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) that would result in new residential dwellings across the town centre, district and local centres, core employment areas and other commercial areas. Once in place, the Direction will remove the ability to make use of PDRs for the change of use of certain buildings into residential units. Instead planning permission will be required, potentially making it more difficult to secure an approval for residential development.


The Council has stated that “The intention of the Article was not to halt all changes of use or development on commercial sites to residential use, but to give the Council more control over relevant applications through the planning process.”

Part of their justification is that the move will help boost the supply of housing within the Borough, on the basis that the substantial uptake of PDRs in Reading since 2013 has delivered the wrong type of housing and not necessarily in the right places. For example, it cites the fact that most of the supply of PDR dwellings has been dominated by studio and 1-bedroom dwellings, many of which are perceived to be poor quality, and this has not addressed the greater need for family sized homes.

The Council also points out the problems of introducing residents into areas where they were not previously present, particularly where it can impact on existing businesses. This includes employment areas but also the high street, where the Council argues that the PDRs could have a detrimental impact on the health of the Borough’s defined centres. They consider that the Direction will help protect the High Street and existing office and industrial supply.

The Direction allows other planning matters such as affordable housing or amenity space provision to be considered with change of use applications, which would not otherwise be possible with the PDRs in force.

The introduction of the Direction comes despite the Government stating that their use should be limited only to situations where it is necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts. It therefore seems that the Council consider it necessary to fulfil the objectives of its Development Plan.

What PDRs will be affected?

The Direction withdraws the following PDRs:

  • Change of use of commercial, business and service use (use class E) to residential (Part 3, class MA);
  • Change of use of hot food takeaway, betting office, payday loan shop or launderette to residential (Part 3, class M);
  • Change of use of casino or amusement arcade to residential (Part 3, class N);
  • Demolition of single, purpose built, detached block of flats or a single, detached office, light industrial or research and development building and its replacement with a detached block of flats or detached house (Part 20, class ZA);
  • Up to two additional residential storeys on a detached commercial or mixed-use building (in use for retail, financial and professional, restaurant and café, office, research and development, light industrial, betting shop, payday loan shop, launderette) (Part 20, class AA); and
  • Up to two additional residential storeys on a two or more-storey terraced commercial or mixed use building (see class AA for uses) or one additional storey on a one storey building (Part 20, class AB).


The Direction will come into force on 15 November 2022. This means that sites can continue to benefit from the listed PDRs until that date, provided that the necessary prior approval is in place. Anything proposed after that date will need planning permission.

There is therefore a window of time where PDRs can still be used before the Direction kicks in, but only for a brief period. If you are considering any of the changes listed above for properties in the Reading area, you need to act quickly.

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