Concentration in multiple occupancy units necessary

The owner of a dwelling in Devon failed to secure permission to change its use to a house in multiple occupancy (HMO) despite an inspector concluding that it would not undermine the amenity of local residents.

The council had issued an article 4 direction which prevented the change of use of dwellings in parts of the city to HMOs. A supplementary planning document identified areas which already had a concentration of HMOs in excess of 20 per cent and the appeal site fell within such an area. The appellant stated that these areas were widely drawn and did not reflect the low concentration of HMOs in the immediate area. He also stated that the change of use was required in order to maximise the value of the house and allow him to move closer to other family members who lived in an area of higher property values.

The inspector concluded that the change of use would not affect the amenity of local residents and expressed sympathy for the appellant’s claim that the number of HMOs in the area was limited. Nonetheless, the council had adopted a policy which sought to ensure that a balance in the occupancy of dwellings was maintained, thereby avoiding excessive vacancy rates outside of university term times.

The appellant’s personal circumstances did not amount to severe personal hardship and it had not been proven that the property could not be sold at an appropriate price on the open market.

Consequently, despite concluding that the scheme would not lead to any adverse impacts on the local area, the inspector ruled that the relevant exceptions to the council’s policy had not been met and the 20 per cent threshold should be maintained.

Inspector: Jennifer Tempest; Written representations

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