Article 4 directions are often mentioned in property enquiry certificates requested for property transactions. New article 4 directions made recently by Falkirk Council illustrate the continuing relevance.

What is an Article 4 Direction?

An Article 4 Direction is used to eliminate all or some of the permitted development rights in an area, with the result that an application for planning permission has to be submitted.

Permitted development rights allow individuals to implement changes to their property without obtaining planning permission. This is because the changes are considered as 'permitted development'. Such changes can include the erection of sheds and garages.

Removal of permitted development rights is often appropriate in conservation areas, where stricter controls on development may be required.

Falkirk Council Article 4 Directions

New Article 4 Directions have been made by Falkirk Council for the Conservation Areas of Dunmore, Grange, Falkirk Town Centre, Arnothill and Dollar Park, Letham, Allandale Cottages and Muirhouses.

These remove permitted development rights for:

  • Sundry Minor Operations - the erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate fence, wall or other means of enclosure.
  • Development by Local Authorities
  • Water undertakings
  • Public Gas Transporters
  • Electricity undertakings
  • Universal Service Providers
  • Sewerage Undertakings

Why is this interesting?

There appears to be a developing pattern of Article 4 Directions being issued: in this blog, by Falkirk Council, but also further North by the Highland Council. Although there does not seem to be one succinct answer explaining their recent increased use, one can assume that it is to align with the national spatial strategy under the revised draft Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) to create places that are 'Distinctive'. The NPF4 states that this involves taking 'a place-based approach' to development plans and decisions by focussing on 'town/centre development, reusing vacant and derelict land, enhancing natural and built environments and protecting heritage assets'. This ties in comfortably with the focus of Falkirk and their area-based funding programme, 'Heritage and Place Programme'. This is a scheme which allows conservations areas to apply for grants from Historic Environment Scotland for sums between £750,000 and £1.5million, to contribute to the preservation of their areas of heritage. Accordingly, it will be interesting to see if this trend extends further and indeed if it accelerates following the adoption of the NPF4.


Neil Collar


Olivia Brown

Trainee Solicitor