9:22 AM, 22nd August 2022, About 2 years ago
As a large property network, ensuring our franchise partners are able to navigate the ever-changing world of Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) and Article 4 Directions is key… and something our planning department discusses with them daily.
Mahsa Khaneghah is the Head of Planning and Sustainability at Platinum and has observed, through her years in planning, that Article 4 directions are being introduced more and more across England as a tool to control the number and quality of HMOs.
Is this effective? It’s a complex issue, but Mahsa believes that this blunt instrument approach has its limitations, and we could even start seeing a knock-on effect on the quality of HMOs in Article 4 areas.
“To give some background, it was in October 2010 when the PDR for the change of use from a C3 Class dwelling to a C4 House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) was introduced by the government in the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO).” explains Mahsa “This would allow for up to 6 unrelated households sharing basic amenities, without the need for planning permission, with the intention to reduce thousands of planning applications.”
“…. shared homes are vital for people who want to live and work in towns and cities and are important to the economy. Where there are local issues with shared homes, councils will have all the tools they need to deal with the problem – but they will avoid getting bogged down in pointless applications, and landlords won’t be put off renting shared homes where they are needed.”
“However,” Mahsa continued “with the ability to convert to HMOs without planning permission came concerns of over-concentrations, poor quality accommodation and loss of family housing in certain areas. So, in response, some Councils chose to regain control by removing the PDR. In the context of HMOs, an Article 4 Direction would mean that planning permission would be required for the change of use to any size HMO”.
“Whilst Article 4 Directions undoubtedly play a crucial role in the sensible planning and development of our urban areas,” says Mahsa “in my experience, I do not consider Article 4 Directions to always be the answer. There are many reasons, but among them are that:
So, all this being said, is there a better way to tackle substandard HMOs? Mahsa believes so:
“It is my view that to tackle substandard HMOs successfully, it is essential to understand the limitations of an Article 4 direction as a planning tool, prioritising investment into the relevant enforcement powers to allow high-quality and compliant HMOs to thrive as an affordable and social housing option.”
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