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Article 4 Directions

On 30 May 2013, legislation was introduced which amended the nationally set Permitted Development Rights to give the temporary right for the change of use of an office building (B1a) to a dwelling house (C3) without requiring full planning permission, but as part of a “light-touch” prior notification procedure. This change was subsequently made permanent in 2016.

Since 2013, the loss of office space in Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre has been monitored by the Council’s Planning Policy Team and also highlighted within the recent Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Economic Needs Study (August 2016) commissioned to inform the new Local Plan. This study recommended that a detailed review of the office market in the town centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells be undertaken in order to assess the losses fully and consider the remaining stock and market demand.

A Town Centre Office Market Review was therefore commissioned in Autumn 2017 which has now been published (March 2018).

The conclusions of the report included that 22% of the office space existing at May 2013 has been lost through change of use to residential via Permitted Development Rights and a further 22% is at risk.

The issue of loss of town centre office space has been raised as a serious concern with the Council both by individual local businesses and business representative organisations. Achieving an appropriate balance between employment, residential and other uses is fundamental to the Council’s vision to encourage investment and sustainable growth and enhance quality of life for all, thereby ensuring that the borough will be a more attractive place to live, work and visit.

In addressing this issue, the Council is taking action in a number of ways, including allocating new land for employment space in the new Local Plan and taking forward a scheme to develop new office space on Council owned land in the town centre. In addition on the 24 and 25 May 2018 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council made the decision to serve Immediate Article 4 Directions on a selected number of properties in the town centre currently in office use.

The service of an Article 4 Direction removed Permitted Development Rights from the property in question and means that any proposal to change the use to residential at this site would now require full planning permission, and be subject to assessment and consideration against relevant national and local planning policy.

The properties that are affected are:

Owners/occupiers of the properties and members of the public were given the opportunity to make representations concerning the Directions during a consultation period. Any representations received have been considered and notice is now given that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council  has confirmed the  Immediate Directions under Article 4(1) of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2018/343).

A copy of the confirmed Directions, including the map defining the areas covered, can be viewed by clicking the relevant link above or in person at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Offices or at the Tunbridge Wells Gateway from 9 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday (apart from Bank Holidays) between 25 May through to the 12 July 2018

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