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Future use of business premises is now protected

In August 2021 the Council announced it had served immediate Article 4 Directions on office, retail, café and restaurant premises in Bidborough, Horsmonden, Langton Green, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Sissinghurst, and Woolley Road, Southborough. The Directions were to protect the premises from being converted to residential use.

At the same time, 20 office buildings in Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre were served with non-immediate Article 4 Directions. These premises were first served with immediate Article 4 Directions in 2018. Changes to legislation meant that unless action was taken the existing Directions would expire in July 2022.

Following a required consultation period, and having regard to the feedback received, the Council announced on Thursday 25 November that all the Article 4 Directions served in August are confirmed. This means that the premises are now protected and permitted developments rights cannot be used to convert the premises to residential use without full planning permission.

The Article 4 Directions that have been confirmed are in locations identified as being of high risk of being lost to residential use by an assessment carried out by the Council.

We will protect other premises if it becomes necessary.

Cllr Alan McDermott, Portfolio holder for Planning and Transportation, said:

The Council took swift action when new permitted development rights were announced. As a result we now have protection in place on offices, shops and cafes where there would be a real loss to the economy and local community if they were to become residential units.

He added:

‘We will be keeping a close eye on what’s happening around the borough and will take further action to protect other premises if it becomes necessary.

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