Help make planning permission a requirement for residential developments in our high street

Tower Hamlets Council is proposing to change existing development rights in the borough. The aim is to ensure commercial buildings are required to secure planning permission before changing to become residential dwellings.

Currently, buildings which fall under the following commercial classes are not required to apply for planning permission to change to Class C3 (residential dwellings):

  • Class A1 (retail)
  • Class A2 (financial and professional services)
  • Betting office or pay day loan shop
  • Mixed use buildings (any of the above plus Class C3 (dwellinghouse)

This means high streets within Tower Hamlets, such as Roman Road, are faced with the challenge of a reduction in commercial buildings which is detrimental to the growth and development of our high street. Roman Road Trust has previously challenged such plans. For example, in 2017, Roman Road Trust successfully appealed plans to change a large commercial unit to residential dwellings. 

However, Article 4 Direction is being proposed which would mean developers are required to submit a planning application to convert commercial buildings to residential dwellings. This would enable the Council to use its planning powers to manage future changes within town centres and for local people to have their say on individual planning applications. Article 4 Direction would come into force on 1st January 2021.

Roman Road is home to a wide range of small, independent retailers who provide essential services to our local community. Retaining our buildings as retail units is vital to the growth and development of our high street. Roman Road Trust believes Article 4 Direction is crucial to keeping Roman Road as a commercial high street, but we need your help to make sure this happens.

Please show you support Article 4 Direction by:

For more information on Article 4 Direction click here. 



Strategic Planning
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
PO Box 55739
E14 2BG

To Whom It May Concern,

Re: Support of Article 4 Direction – Changes of use from certain town centre uses to residential

I am writing to formally SUPPORT Article 4 Direction which proposes to ensure commercial buildings seeking to change use to residential dwellings within town centres are required to seek planning permission.

Article 4 Direction will help to support the commercial development and growth of Roman Road as one of the key shopping and market districts in Tower Hamlets. Roman Road has a rich heritage as a thriving high street and street market but is facing economic challenges. These challenges are heightened by the threat of increased numbers of residential dwellings in our high street.

Our wide range of small, independent retailers provide essential services to our local communities. Roman Road has been highlighted as one of the district centres within Tower Hamlets meaning its identity and success as a high street is crucial to the borough.

The objective to ‘improve the retail offer on the high street’ was a key aim of Tower Hamlets’ High Streets & Town Centre Strategy (2017-2022.) Therefore, by helping to retain our buildings for retail purposes, Article 4 Direction will support the council’s and Greater London’s mission for town centres and high streets across London.

For these reasons, and because I want to make the Roman Road a successful, thriving high street, I would like to show my SUPPORT for Article 4 Direction.

Kind regards,








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