Reading’s Article 4 Direction to prevent Permitted Development Rights (PDR) schemes is set to come into effect next month.

Reading Borough Council’s policy committee will be asked at its October 31 meeting to nod through the proposal which will then come into effect on November 15.

The council has long argued PDR leads to:

  • Housing in the wrong places
  • Poor quality accommodation
  • Types of homes which don’t meet the borough’s needs
  • Loss of office space
  • Loss of potential affordable homes
  • Loss of millions of pounds in developer contributions.

As well as blocking commercial to residential conversions without planning permission, the Article 4 Direction would also prevent developers adding residential storeys onto commercial buildings and demolishing commercial buildings and rebuilding them as residential units without council approval.

If approved, the Article 4 Direction would apply to the town centre, district and local centres, core employment areas and other primarily commercial locations, as well as areas of poorest air quality.

Cllr Micky Leng, Reading Borough Council’s lead councillor for planning, said: “Having seen first-hand the detrimental impact the use of these planning laws can have on communities, Reading is now taking a stand.

“Owners and developers have been riding roughshod over the views of neighbours and the local planning process for too many years. Their motivation is profit and they often have little or no interest in the views of people who live in the vicinity of these developments.

“I want to be clear. This is not the council saying it is anti-development. We are acutely aware of the desperate need for more homes, particularly affordable homes, in Reading.  This is about fairness and ensuring all developments go through the correct democratic planning process, which should be the same process whether you are an owner or a larger developer.

“If agreed next week, the Article 4 Direction will come into effect on November 15 and would apply to a number of areas across the town, including in areas of Reading with poor air quality.

“The idea behind the change is to give the council and communities more control over developments through the planning process, to help protect the existing office and industrial supply and to guard against conversions which are harmful to local neighbourhoods.

“Importantly, it will also allow the consideration of other essential planning considerations – such as affordable housing or amenity space provision – which would not otherwise be possible with the PDR in force, and which I’m sure will be welcomed by all councillors.”

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