Townscape in Trouble can claim some credit for the introduction of restrictions to permitted development rights, enshrined in legislation as Article 4 Directions. However, adverse and avoidable changes are still occurring in Conservation Areas and other sensitive places despite this power. Directions are not used as widely as they might be: the process to introduce them is considered by some to be bureaucratic and their scope limited; there is also a belief that they can lead to Planning Authorities being liable to claims for compensation from property owners.
The Forum is working with RPS on a study to review the application of Article 4 Directions. Among the many questions to be asked are: How widely used are Directions? What are the principal features that they seek to protect? How many additional applications are received as a result of having the Direction? Has the Direction resulted in claims for compensation? How successful are they in achieving protection? What are examples of good practice? Is there a case for a blanket amendment to the GPDO in Conservation Areas?
Moreover, the study should also consider whether Article 4 Directions will continue to find favour in the emerging legal, policy and administrative contexts that will be set by the Heritage Protection Bill and the Killian Pretty Review.
Litchfield, a small Cathedral City with a major central Conservation Area is an ideal venue to consider the results of the study and reflect on whether townscape is still in trouble.
Brian Human, Vice Chair, EHTF