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70% of local planning authorities believe that the use of Article 4 Directions are effective in controlling or preventing undesirable development.

This is shown in a research report 'The Use of Article 4 Directions', commissioned by the department of the environment and published today.

According to the research report over 70% of the local planning authorities which responded to a survey questionnaire had made at least one direction in a conservation area.

Another significant reason for using directions was to protect countryside and agricultural areas, often by withdrawing permitted development rights for temporary uses like Sunday markets or car boot sales.

The report, prepared by Roger Tym and Partners, concluded that the secretaries of state for England and Wales should retain their current role of approving the majority of directions and that there should be no change to the relevant parts of the General Development Order (now the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995).

It makes a number of recommendations about best practice and improved procedures and suggests some changes in policy guidance and legislation.

Planning minister Paul Beresford said:

'This report confirms that Article 4 directions serve a useful purpose and have an important part to play in safeguarding the quality of life in our towns and countryside.

'Some of its recommendations have already been taken on board. Local planning authorities now have a new power to make directions, without the approval of the secretary of state, in respect of dwelling houses in conservation areas; and a new circular, containing revised guidance and `model' directions has been published. We shall study all the recommendations carefully.'

- 'The Use of Article 4 Directions', by Roger Tym and Partners, is published by HMSO, price £20, ISBN 0-11-753140-5. Tel: 0171 873 9090.

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