Planning permission for  C3 to C4 in Article 4 conservation area

Planning permission for C3 to C4 in Article 4 conservation area

14:44 PM, 8th July 2014, About 9 years ago 10

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I’m looking at buying a two bedroomed Victorian terraced house in NN1. Planning permission for  C3 to C4 in Article 4 conservation area

My plan is to refurbish but nothing major as it has central heating, double glazing etc but currently unlettable due to kitchen condition.

It needs re-plastering, decorating, carpets etc and a new kitchen.

I will then let as a small unlicensed 4 bed HMO.

I’ve seen suitable empty properties that could easily be converted without the need for planning permission for the works, but would need planning permission for conversion to HMO as they are in Article 4 areas.

I’ve called Northampton planning Department who say that they would not rule it out and would give an opinion if 10% of fees are paid and it would depend on how many others there are in the road, demand etc etc.

Has anyone got experience of actually going this route and any advice? e.g. how do I find out how many registered HMOS there are in the nearby roads?

The house would still be a decent yield as a family home but HMO much more so.



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sharon underwood

15:45 PM, 8th July 2014, About 9 years ago

I would double check your figures as i had 5 bed hmo for which i paid £1000 registration fees plus cost of the work etc, if you have a medium sized hostel or something like that anything over about 7 bed then i believe there is money to be made but my 5 bed was not cost effective bearing in mind cost for all utilities council tax registration AND the chance that council may move the goal posts requiring yet more works etc, I am not trying to put you off but there is an awful lot to consider before going down this road and wish i had known then what i know now i have to say i would not have gone down that road, the other problem is that as you have probably seen the on this site is once u have the council in your life it can get very complicated xx I hope this does work for you and wish you all the best just look into it a little further before taking the plunge GOOD LUCK


16:10 PM, 8th July 2014, About 9 years ago

My advice echoes Sharon's - do not buy until you have a crystal-clear understanding of what works the Council are going to demand, as once EHOs and planning officers get their teeth into you, they can be incredibly demanding and, as bad, inconsistent between different officers. Some will demand fire-proofing works on the kitchen ceiling and if a wall connect to the staircase; others will want fire doors on every room; they may want bike and bin stores in the front garden, even when there's patently no room for them. It would help too to contact the NLA or RLA in the Northampton area, to ask to talk with other landlords who have already been done this path.

Would it be simpler and more profitable to look at houses outside the Article 4 area?

Jamie M

18:00 PM, 8th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Dont trust the council for a millisecond and even if you have agreement and terms in writing, they are still prone to change things on you just to make it bloody difficult, expensive and unprofitable for you. They are utter pricks

John Daley

13:40 PM, 9th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Susan,

As you say the Article 4 direction is a part of Planning Law. So you will have to apply for permission to allow the property to be used as an HMO. I suggest you check if there is a planning policy for the area you wish to buy in. There may be a policy against granting permission in which case your plan will be more difficult to realise.

The density of lettings is a bit more difficult but Census data can provide this. I'm not sure if you can get this direct from National Statistics but it is there.

The Council will have HMO standards, probably on their website, which will apply even if the property is not licenseable.

Lastly I assume the property is not three storeys so not subject to mandatory licensing. There may be an additional licensing scheme which covers the area.

All in all well worth some research to find out what you need to do. If the investment is worth while then these costs won't sink it.

Geoffrey Miles

15:10 PM, 26th July 2014, About 9 years ago

I am a landlord with properties in NN1 and have been through the Article 4 process on 3 occasions since it was introduced.
Firstly the Article 4 area is restricted to parts of the area but substantial parts of the town are included. NN1 is in the area.
You are correct in stating that you need planning approval for change of use. The advice you have been given is to request pre planning advice. Normally the fee is 10% of the planning fee but Article 4 applications are exempt so no charge applies.
My experience is that the planning department will make serious efforts to correctly advise you on the acceptability of change of use. They will research the HMO density locally amongst other factors. I have found them to be honest and reasonable. BUT this advice is not legally binding so you would be taking a very large risk in purchasing prior to obtaining full planning consent. The 8 week application process makes it very difficult to buy subject to planning.
Please also be aware that from November 3rd this year additional mandatory licensing is being introduced which would apply to you.
Hope this helps a little.

Sue Whittle

15:43 PM, 9th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Geoffrey Miles" at "26/07/2014 - 15:10":

Geoffrey (all) thanks belatedly for your useful comments on this – I was waiting to see how it all ended up on my side before coming back. I don’t think I’d have gone ahead with this purchase if I had really thought about everything and taken on board all the other comments (realistic, helpful and honest all which is why this is a good site ) and put my business head on – I’m a bit rubbish at that, I’ve relied over the years on gut instinct and there is something about this place that just makes me want to go ahead as usual.
I’d be very interested to hear about your journey and if you were successful with the application process. I ended up exchanging with a 10% deposit and applying for bridge financing on the property and I now own it.
It needs a lot of work but would make a brilliant student or professional HMO – equally it could just be a family let but much less profitable and desirable due to no parking and no garden.
Would be great to have a chat

Sue Whittle

15:44 PM, 9th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue Whittle" at "09/08/2014 - 15:43":

sorry should have added , yes it will be three storeys - there is an attic bedroom
(and a cellar but that is not part of the refurb plan at this stage)

Sue Whittle

15:48 PM, 9th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "09/07/2014 - 13:40":

John Daley

Thanks for this John,

I will check planning policy and look at census data for density of lettings.
Ive looked up HMO standards which i am more than happy to comply with, and as I said below yes it is indeed three storeys so mandatory licensing....

Geoffrey Miles

20:34 PM, 9th August 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue Whittle" at "09/08/2014 - 15:43":

Hi Sue
Yes happy to chat. Not sure how it works here but you can e mail me at

Will Lewington

22:05 PM, 13th July 2016, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue Whittle" at "09/08/2014 - 15:43":

Hi Sue,

I am planning to buy a property in central Northampton and covert to a 4 bed HMO, very similar to what you discussed in your post back in 2014.

I'm currently facing the same dilemma, in that my target properties are in an Article 4 designated area.. And I'm unsure whether planning is likely to granted/whether the pre application advice of the council can be relied upon.

I'd love to hear how you found the process and whether you have any advice - I'm unsure how it works on here (this is my first post) If you'd be happy to share your experience with me, it would be fantastic to hear from you.

Kind regards,

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