Brent Council drop plans for borough wide HMO planning restrictions

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 - Brent Council

HMO planning permission in Brent 2020

In an unexpected development, research by London Property Licensing has identified a planning policy reversal by the London Borough of Brent.

On 21 October 2019, Brent Council made a non-immediate House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights to convert a property from a single dwelling house (use class C3) to an HMO with 3 to 6 occupants (use class C4).

The planning restrictions were to apply borough wide except for the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation Area. Subject to confirmation, the Direction was due to come into force on 1 November 2020.

Brent non immediate HMO Article 4 Direction 2019

Brent Council consulted on the proposal between 24 October and 5 December 2019. It is not known how many responses were received or what issues were raised.

Following the consultation, the results were due to be presented to the Lead Member for Regeneration, Property and Planning, before deciding if the council would confirm the Article 4 Direction.

However, an update on the council’s website says no decision was made to implement the Article 4 Direction, it has not been confirmed and did not come into force on 1 November.

It says the council is likely to formally revoke the Article 4 Direction in 2021 and may look at new proposals to restrict planning restrictions to certain parts of the borough.

It is not known why the council have decided not to proceed with HMO planning restrictions at this time.

This decision is likely to come as good news to many local landlords and agents. It will allow landlords to alternative lettings between single families and small groups of sharers according to the needs of the market without requiring planning permission. This is separate from property licensing requirements which still apply.

Planning permission will still be required for HMOs occupied by 7 or more people, or to sub-divide properties into smaller self-contained units of accommodation.

Charles Rose, Chartered Town Planner at City Planning commented:

Brent Council’s decision to take a more zonal approach to HMO restrictions rather than a borough wide approach is helpful for HMO operators looking to meet demand for such accommodation in the borough. It provides operators with a clearer understanding of which locations are appropriate for new HMOs and which areas the borough perceive there to be potential problems due to over concentrations of HMOs.

For the time being permitted development rights still exist borough-wide so keep an eye out for when zonal restrictions are likely to come into force. Given Brent Council have already consulted on a borough wide Article 4 it remains to be seen whether they feel obliged to undertake further consultations.

It is important to remember that Article 4 Directions do not stop you from obtaining planning permission for HMOs but it does indicate that the Council believe these areas to be more sensitive and therefore more detailed planning applications should be submitted in order to satisfy Brent Council’s planning policies.

A free guide containing more information about property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in the London Borough of Brent is available here.

A free guide containing more information about HMO Article 4 Directions is available here.

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