Council moves to protect town centre small businesses from threat of residential development


Hackney Council has approved a raft of proposals to help protect small businesses and employment from being turned into houses by developers.

The plans, agreed by the Council’s Cabinet, seek to place added planning protection, called an Article 4 Direction (A4D), across the borough’s key town and shopping centres, protecting the many local shops and offices that provide jobs and essential services for the local community.

With an A4D applied to offices and shops in areas such as Dalston, Hackney Central, Stoke Newington and Hoxton, a developer will need to submit a full planning application for a future change of use. The Council can then assess the positives, negatives and impact of such a change on a local area while overseeing the quality of any new development if approved. Previously, a developer could change an office or shop into residential use without required planning permission from the Local Authority.

The placing of the A4D will help to protect the Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that make up 88% of Hackney’s businesses, preventing the loss of essential shop and employment space across diverse, vibrant and growing town centres locations.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Hackney Council
Hackney’s high streets make a vital contribution to our local economy and to the vibrancy of the borough. They give character to the borough and increasingly are attracting visitors from far and wide.

The Government’s proposals make it easier for developers to change the use of buildings on our high streets without seeking planning permission. Converting a high street building from high street uses to unaffordable housing will lead to the decline of our high streets. It is for this reason the Council is implementing the Article 4 Directions to ensure that our town centres continue to thrive and prosper into the future as places where we can meet people and do business.  

At the same time we have also made sure that our wider local economy and Hackney’s business community is not threatened by the Government’s changes that also mean that developers can convert office spaces to residential. Following our campaign to be exempt in parts of the borough from these changes, another Article 4 Direction will expand these areas of exemption across the whole borough, helping to protect local businesses and jobs.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Hackney Council

A 21 day consultation will be undertaken soon to give people an opportunity to provide comments about the proposals. A 12 month notice will also be given before the A4D comes into effect in 2016.

Applying an A4D will remove the temporary Permitted Development (PD) which allow a developer to change a shop into residential use, as well as removing the flexible town centre use of PD rights, which allow developers to change the use of a shop and other town centre uses without a planning application for a two year period.

The A4D will be applied to all shop types, from traditional high street retail, to financial and professional services, restaurants and cafés, leisure facilities, public houses and many others.

To see the proposals, please visit the website.