Planning permission for change of use from C3 to C4?

Planning permission for change of use from C3 to C4?

9:18 AM, 23rd August 2021, About 2 years ago 4

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I am applying for planning permission to convert a 3-bedroom flat in Birmingham (classed as a C3 dwelling house) to a C4 small HMO. Birmingham has a city-wide Article 4 Directive in place which overrides permitted development rights.

The flat exceeds minimum room sizes considerably, and I am not proposing any changes to the internal layout. I would like to submit the planning application myself. I would be interested to know if anyone has successfully applied for Planning Permission in Birmingham or any other area with Article 4 in place to change the use of a property to C4.

I am keen to hear views on whether I should be considering preparing the application myself, or whether I need a specialist third party to do this for me. I have looked at the form and requirements on the Planning Portal, and it looks straightforward to me. I would also be interested in any advice to help me strengthen my application.

Many thanks


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Reluctant Landlord

10:41 AM, 23rd August 2021, About 2 years ago

just be aware in certain parts of Bham the whole issue of HMO's is becoming an issue due to some areas being overriden by them and the resulting chaos of the type of clients they house. In some postcodes licences are NOT being granted so just make sure if you can get the permission and do the work you can actually legally rent them.

You may not be looking at 'exempt' HMO's but its a concern.

Reluctant Landlord

10:50 AM, 23rd August 2021, About 2 years ago

oh and Bham Planning are a nightmare to deal with. Slow, unhelpful etc. We have applied for various things are various times and been given conflicting advice. Perhaps try pre-planning first then if they pick anything up you can address it. (or if they dont then you are on a winner before full planning request). Go full planning first and you run the risk of rejection then not enough detail as to why (my experience). Then it takes time to get them to give you reasons before you can address these.

Marlena Topple

10:58 AM, 23rd August 2021, About 2 years ago

Thank you DSR.

Michael Mathews

13:19 PM, 24th August 2021, About 2 years ago

Please go into this with your eyes open. There are too many HMOs and the Council will seek to refuse most new applications to suppress even more. The Art.4 Directive will have been put in place to enable them to do this - it is put in place because the Council have decided that area is a "problem" area for HMOs. Try to understand what their acceptance criteria is. In Manchester they will not grant planning permission unless (1) less than than 20% of the houses within 100m are HMOs, (2) you will not be taking a single occupancy out of use (ie: a house that was flats can be an HMO, but not a house that was a single home for one household), (3) Even if they do grant planning permission, it is likely to be with potentially crippling conditions - very small number of occupants allowed, impossible number of car parking spaces to be provided etc
They should also have some form of "strategic plan" for development in their area - though you may find it incompressible or so vaguely worded as to mean everything and nothing and so they can use it just justify whatever arbitrary decision they make.
I would not hire consultants, as the chances of you succeeding are likely not to be good, the fight could be long and you will burn cash (pay fees) while all this goes on.
I suspect most HMO's will have come about illegally - ie: people just do and be damned and if they get away with it for 4+ years the Council can no longer enforce and it becomes planning legal automatically (with or without a Permitted Development Certificate: Existing Use) see s.191(2) Town & Country Planning Act 1990. This form of "established use" planning permission is then condition free (though it must still comply with HMO standards, licencing etc)
Albeit in is in contravention of planning regs

Such contraventions are civil wrongs (no penalty if you are caught), but if they catch you and serve a Planning Enforcement Notice on you, a breach of this is criminal (not having a TV licence is also criminal). The Council can do works on your house to put it back the way it was - but given it will be primarily a "change of use" there might be no such work to be done
The Councils are not under a duty to enforce planning permission - they can chose to do so. If they chose to do so and they get it wrong, they can be liable to their costs, your costs and compensation for loss of rent etc for the period they forced you not to rent it out as an HMO. So keeping the situation "grey" for 4+ years can be a successful strategy
The Councils will likely fight dirty. It is regrettable, but you may need to be prepared to get your hands a little dirty to succeed
Wish it were otherwise
None of this stops you making the most wonderful HMO. One that will put the flood of other mediocre HMOs out of business. So I wish you luck, whatever you do.

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