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HMO conversions for 3 to 6 people will require planning approval from June 2020

A citywide direction on houses in multiple occupation (HMO) will be introduced by Birmingham City Council from 8 June 2020.

The Article 4 direction will mean that planning approval is required for the conversion of a family house to an HMO accommodating between three and six people. Current planning rules only require planning approval for properties larger than this.

The direction will be supported by a proposed new planning policy set out within the Development Management in Birmingham document, which is subject to a six-week public consultation period from 9 January 2020. The consultation will close at 5pm on Friday 21st February 2020.

An existing direction for this purpose is already in force in Selly Oak, Harborne and Edgbaston and has been successful in limiting the growth of HMOs in those areas.

Ahead of the direction coming into force, landlords are being advised to declare existing HMOs to the council. Any existing HMOs declared after that date are likely to require a retrospective planning application or a certificate of lawful use, both of which will incur a charge. New HMOs created after 8 June 2020 will require a planning application.

Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, said: “Shared accommodation or houses in multiple occupation provide an important way of meeting the city’s housing needs. However, high concentrations of HMOs can have a negative impact on the character of neighbourhoods and create unbalanced communities.

“This direction will enable the council to manage the growth of HMOs across the city more effectively as any new proposals will be assessed in line with planning policies.”

Further information about the city-wide direction and the process for declaring existing HMOs can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk/hmoarticle4

By Kyle Moore

Source: Birmingham Updates

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Plans submitted to turn terraced house in Connah’s Quay into ‘house in multiple occupation’

Plans have been put forward to turn a terraced home on Deeside into a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

It would see the property on Church Street, Connah’s Quay, converted to include four bedrooms to house a maximum of five people.

According to planning documents, the house has been vacant for a number of years.

Carlatton Property Ltd, which is behind the application, said the proposed living accommodation is up to the standards required for HMOs in Flintshire.

In a covering letter written on the company’s behalf, planning agent Jennifer Sanders said: “The application site comprises a three-bed, mid-terrace dwelling with rear garden and an attached outbuilding.

“While the overall layout of the property is not proposed to alter, some minor internal alterations are proposed at ground floor level.

“The resultant building will comprise a four bedroom (five person) HMO, with separate kitchen, utility and living room, as well as an upstairs bathroom and additional downstairs toilet.

“The existing dwelling has been vacant for some time and require substantial refurbishment.

“The proposed development seeks to bring the property back into appropriate use.

“Furthermore, with no external alterations and very few (if any) other HMO units located in the immediate vicinity, the proposal will not change or harm the character of the surrounding area.”

Comments are currently being invited on the application via the Flintshire Council website.

Any feedback must be received by March 5 and the local authority is aiming to make a decision on the proposals before the end of March.

Source: Deeside

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Proposals for town centre HMO backed for approval despite parking concerns

Proposals to convert a property on the edge of Wrexham town centre into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) have been backed for approval.

The recommendation has been made by officers at Wrexham Council despite concerns that the plans for the house on Derby Road will lead to an increase in traffic.

Community councillors have also said it could cause parking difficulties on a busy route in the town, which is close to Eagles Meadow shopping centre.

However, the authority’s head of environment and planning has advised politicians that the change of use should be given the green light.

In a report, Lawrence Isted said: “Local planning guidance advises that the maximum parking required for the proposed use is four spaces which is one more space than the maximum requirements for the existing use.

“The applicant has amended the original scheme to provide four on-site parking spaces side by side with a limited turning area.
“The site is extremely sustainable being located some 1km from the town centre within which there is access to local shopping provision, various bus services and the railway station.

“There are no reasons to resist this proposal on the grounds of highway safety.”

One neighbouring resident raised concerns about the type of tenant that would be housed in the property.

In response, Mr Isted said the occupation of a HMO is not restricted to any particular type of person.
He said: “There are no planning or housing regulatory reasons why a HMO proposal should be refused on the grounds of any particular type of person occupying the property.

“The transiency of occupiers would not result in any detriment to the social fabric of the area.”

The proposals will be considered by Wrexham Council’s planning committee on Monday 7 January.

Source: Wrexham

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Hightown HMO plans rejected after residents warn of impact on their community

Plans to create a six-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Wrexham have been rejected after residents warned it would tear their community apart.

Proposals were submitted to Wrexham Council to convert an existing house on Beechley Road in Hightown to accommodate a total of seven people.
However, after members of the authority’s planning committee carried out a site visit today, they chose to go against the advice of officers and refused the application. They were greeted at the property by members of the Beechley Road Residents’ Association carrying placards, including one which read ‘Don’t Turn Beechley Road Into A Ghetto’.

Neighbours raised a number of concerns about the plans, including issues over parking and fly tipping as a result of the six existing HMOs on the street.
They have previously presented a petition with 90 signatures against the development.

John Harding, chair of the association, said: “A line has to be drawn somewhere to ensure the quality of life of long term residents is maintained, and in our opinion this is where the line should be drawn.

“There has already been an adverse impact on house prices in the road as a result of decisions taken in the past by the planning department.

“This deterioration can only accelerate given the authority’s perceived plan of allowing properties in the road to become nothing more than cheap accommodation for short term residents and the problems they bring with them.

“We see this as a direct attack on our future and will do our utmost to prevent this from happening.”

After committee members returned to the Guildhall, they were told that the proposals complied with all of the council’s policies.

Chair Mike Morris warned that valid grounds would need to be found for refusal.

But several politicians voiced their frustration at the increasing number of HMOs, including the area’s councillor Graham Rogers, he said: “Having visited the site, and I know the site very well, my concerns are still on parking and the four spaces, the double yellow lines at a very busy junction, the speeds at excess of what they are supposed to be and 90 residents have signed a petition which we should take the cognisance of.”

He was supported by Cllr Paul Jones, who said: “It’s very disappointing that our planning policy and planning guidance is inflicting yet another HMO on a community in Wrexham. The area is not saturated with HMOs, but it’s going in the wrong direction. HMOs done in the wrong way cause considerable problems for that community.

“It will be the people in that community baring the consequences whichever way it goes.”

Cllr Rogers said the plans should be refused on the grounds of parking and access, despite being told the highways department had no issues.

His recommendation was backed by eight votes to four.

Source: Wrexham

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High Court ruling counts children as residents in HMOs

The High Court has confirmed that children under the age of 18 are ‘residents’ for planning purposes when calculating the total number of residents in a Class C4 HMO.

Paramaguru v London Borough of Ealing

In the case of Paramaguru v London Borough of Ealing, Mr Justice Supperstone was asked by local landlord Sinnathurai Paramaguru to rule on the judgement made by Ealing Magistrates Court that children up to 18 years of age can be classified as residents under the jurisdiction of Class C4 of the Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes Order) 1987, and whether the magistrates had jurisdiction to state a case.

The court also charged Mr Paramaguru with one offence of breaching a planning enforcement notice contrary to section 179(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which required him to cease the use of his property as a Class C4 HMO.

Following this ruling by the magistrates’, Mr Paramaguru entered a guilty plea, where the case was subsequently referred to Isleworth Crown Court under section 70 of the proceeds of crime act 2002, where confiscation proceedings and furthering sentencing will be put to consideration, however the hearing has been adjourned pending the outcome of the appeal.

In his judgement, Justice Supperstone ruled that the magistrates were correct in their ruling that children under 18 count as ‘residents’ in these circumstances, agreeing with magistrates concerns of uncertainty, outlined in paragraph 7 of the case: “We strongly believe that Parliament did not intend to create a situation where you could have a property, for example the property we are dealing with, to have six adults and 40 children and still be within the law. If we were to find that children do not count that situation would be possible.”

Continuing his ruling, Justice Supperstone argued that a ruling to the contrary position would introduce uncertainty in regards to local authority control of HMO’s, which are “likely to be made more difficult through the introduction of uncertainty… if they have to assess whether children are ‘young’ or ‘very young’.”

Read the full case hearing here.

Planning Changes

Since 2010 in England the introduction of the C4 Planning Use Class for small HMOs has meant that letting a house or flat to two or more households has represented a material change of use – technically requiring planning permission. Fortunately this is covered by general permitted development meaning that no application is required.

However, local authorities can designate an Article 4 Direction removing all permitted development rights, and subsequently require landlords to apply for planning permission before letting to sharers instead of a single household or family.

Applications for planning permission in Article 4 areas had been free, but due to recent changes a landlord may now have to pay a fee (increased to £462.00) for applying for a change of use in an area where permitted development has been withdrawn.

This change encourages local authorities to remove permitted development so they can gather a fee from landlords.

The Government is also strengthening the rules surrounding HMO standards and licensing for children, with Housing Minister Heather Wheeler introducing new measures effective in October that will dictate minimum room sizes, with rooms slept in by children 10 years or younger to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.

Read more about the extension of mandatory HMO licensing here.

 Source: Landlords
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Overturned: council’s ban on hotel being converted into HMO

A COUNCIL ban on a hotel being converted into an HMO has been overturned.

Last year Bournemouth council turned down a bid to convert Earlham Lodge, at 91 Alumhurst Road, Bournemouth, into an HMO (house in multiple occupation), claiming it could damage Alum Chine’s reputation as a tourist destination.

However the applicant has now successfully appealed the decision, and the council will have to pay the costs.

Planning inspector Andy Harwood’s report states: “I have no evidence that the balance of the community will be harmed by the HMO.

“In relation to the main issue, the HMO has an acceptable impact upon the character of the surrounding area and its tourism function.”

He was critical of the council’s submission describing the tourism offer in the Alum Chine area.

The borough said according to the most recent figures, 22 per cent of visitors to Alum Chine beach during the summer of 2015 were staying overnight in Bournemouth, 50 per cent in hotels and 29 per cent in self-catering accommodation.

However the inspector said there was no evidence these people were staying in Alum Chine.

“It is not clear how the holiday accommodation is distributed or to what degree those properties are separated by residential accommodation,” he said.

“It is possible that some of these properties could involve use of rooms within dwellings rather than being solely holiday accommodation.

“The evidence is not precise or detailed.

“It is not presented in a form that helps me understand the geographical distribution of the holiday accommodation.

“From what I saw at my site visit, the largely suburban residential character of the area around the site does not appear to include a noticeably high concentration of properties that are clearly in use for holiday accommodation.”

Bournemouth council has already approved, in 2016, plans to convert the building to holiday flats, and recently agreed to drop a condition so the flats can also be used for accommodation.

The HMO bid last year attracted five letters of objection from nearby residents, chiefly expressing their concerns about potential noise, the loss of the tourist facility and the setting of a precedent for HMOs in the area.

Source: Bournemouth Echo

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Council plans crackdown on HMOs in the Dales

Plans to crack down on the number of HMOs (House in Multiple Occupation) in the Dales neighbourhood of Smithdown have been revealed.

Liverpool City Council says the over concentration of shared housing is impacting on the lives of local residents with noise complaints and anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents above the city average.

Currently, no planning application for a change of use from a house to HMO for up to six people is required as planning permission for such a change is automatically granted.

Council evidence shows that the Dales neighbourhood, bounded by Wellington Road/Gainsborough Road, Smithdown Road, and the West Coast Main railway, has a higher than average concentration of HMOs (39%) and that this is adversely impacting on local residents’ quality of life.

Between April 2015 and October 2017, there were 275 complaints to the council’s noise team; whilst between April 2014 and February 2017, there were 360 ASB incidents reported to the police.

Almost 80% of the properties on one road, Borrowdale Road, are listed as HMOs.

To combat the situation, the council wants to use an Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights that allow a change of use from class C3 (Dwelling House) to C4 (HMO for up to six persons) to happen without the need for planning consent.

The Direction is recommended for approval at a meeting of the council’s cabinet this Friday (24 November).

Source: Your Move Magazine

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Developer challenges landmark Armley HMO decision

A landmark decision to refuse planning permission for a shared house in Armley is to be challenged after the developer launched an appeal.

In August councillors on Leeds City Council’s south and west plans panel turned down an application to turn a four-bedroom family terrace house in Conference Road into a house of multiple occupation (HMO) for four people.

They said the application, by Oakwood-based White Owl Properties Ltd, would alter the character of the area, that another HMO would affect community cohesion, cause parking problems and would lead to the loss of a much-needed family home.

But White Owl has now launched an appeal against the decision and the final decision on their proposals will be taken by an independent Government planning inspector.

Council planning officers had said there was not a high enough concentration of HMOs to the south of the railway line to turn down planning permission – but they arguments were overturned by councillors.

Applicant Sara Poskitt argued that she and her partner Sam Waterworth owned six properties between them and never had any noise problems with tenants. Ms Poskitt said that tenants were always vetted, that unemployed and DSS were not allowed and strict checks were in place.

The Planning Inspectorate says the appeal will be dealt with by the written representations procedure and the planning inspector will visit the site. No date has yet been given for the appeal.

Source: West Leeds Dispatch

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HMO plans for vacant Rhosddu property rejected by councillors

Plans to convert a property into Rhosddu into a HMO have been rejected by councillors.

The application to convert the property at 36 Rhosddu Road into a one bedroom self-contained flat and a five bedroom HMO (House Multiple Occupation) was submitted to Wrexham Council in September 2017.

The property is described in the application’s design and access statement as a three storey, Victorian mid-terrace dwelling that has been vacant for sometime and lies in a state of disrepair.

At present the building consists of a living room, dining room and a former kitchen and shower room at basement level. Two bedrooms and a further kitchen area are on the ground floor entrance level and a further three bedrooms and bathroom at the first level.

However the plans put forward proposed a remodelling of the building, along with converting the basement into a one bedroom apartment and the first and ground floors into a five bedroom HMO.

The proposals had been recommended for approval, with planning officer David Williams stating the committee would need to evaluate if “one additional HMO in that building would adversely affect the character” of that area.

In terms of approving the application, councillors told that the key consideration related to the concentration of HMOs in a 50m radius and if it goes over a 10% threshold. In this case there is already in excess of 14% of HMO properties and if the application was approved it would take the percentage to 17%.

Mr Williams said: “We need to look at the circumstances relating to that site, there is already a concentrated cluster.

“It is an area of mixed-use, it is not primarily residential and I think if you were looking to refuse, you need to be asking how one additional HMO would alter the character of that area given it would be sandwiched either side by an existing HMO.

“We have obtained information with the Council Tax records and it appears the property has been unoccupied since 2011, so it provides and opportunity to bring a beneficial use back into the building.

“I appreciate we are still working on new guidance for HMOs, so I don’t think it is something we can use at this point to justify the determination of this applications.

“We have tended to use the 10% figure in the past, in this case would accept it goes beyond the 10% limit. Again we need to look at the individual circumstances on the site and as an individual case.”

He added: “I think you need to ask yourself how one additional HMO in that building would adversely affect the character of the area.”

However Grovsenor Cllr Marc Jones described the situation with HMOs as “frustrating” and a “catch 22”, with the committee told previously that they could not refuse an application on the basis of not hitting the 10% threshold. However in this instance councillors were being told that “one more won’t make a difference”.

Cllr Jones said: “I want to give a background on the location. It is important people understand it is a very built area, it is mixed and I would challenge the view that it is not primarily residential.

“This block of five terrace houses directly overlooks Rhosddu Park and is adjacent to the cemetery. We have had a PSPO (Public Space Protection Area) to prevent people engaging in antisocial behaviour in place for a couple of years, with limited success, but that is as a result of concerns people have had about antisocial behaviour in this area.

“There have been public meetings and has been significant concerns in terms of police activity and because of that I am struggling really to understand the logic behind this.

“Given the concerns that have been reflected locally, I think Planning Policy H4 is clear and worth reading in its entirety and the last clause – the sub division of dwellings will only be permitted when a proposal would not result in the over concentration of HMOs to the detriment of crime levels, social fabric of the area and amenity of existing residents.

“That is fairly concise and clear cut. I don’t think we need to look any further.”

He added: “The idea that one more doesn’t make a difference, it does – one more makes huge difference. We have to be careful in ways we deal with the individual planning applications, there is a bigger picture we have to address.

“I am here to represent the concerns of residents in Rhosddu. I think there is a danger that we could set a dangerous precedent that landlords who have long-term empty dwellings feel they can get away with anything if they leave a dwelling empty long enough. It is a dangerous precedent to set.

“On the basis of Policy H4 I recommend refusal. It goes against our policy and think there is a very clear case.”

The recommendation for refusal was seconded by Cllr Paul Pemberton, who said he agreed that there are too many HMOs in such a small area.

Cllr I David Bithell, who represents the neighbouring Stansty ward, added: “There are too many HMOs and too much antisocial behaviour. Police are supporting us to try and reduce it and I think we need to make a stand.

“I am disappointed with the planning officer for recommending approval. I thought he would be supporting us on refusal.”

Members of the committee voted unanimously for refusing the application.

Source: Wrexham.com