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Consultation to extend controls over Houses in Multiple Occupation

Published on Monday, November 1, 2021

3 minute read

Aerial view of terraced houses

PEOPLE are being asked their views on major new proposals to expand the area in which the city council can control the number of homes being converted to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Under current national planning laws, planning consent is not needed to convert a house into a HMO designed for between three and six people to live in.

However, where there is evidence that high numbers of HMOs in a particular area is having a negative impacts upon that neighbourhood, councils can introduce a legal requirement, called an Article 4 Direction, which would mean planning permission is needed for the change of use.

An Article 4 Direction has already been in place since 2014 in several areas of the city, to control the number of HMOs.

The latest proposals will expand, and in some cases join together, those areas to include thousands more buildings in areas where high numbers of HMOs exist.

Leicester City Council has this week announced its decision to review the existing arrangements, and as part of that to launch a public consultation to get people’s opinions on the proposals and detailing where they would come into effect.

The existing Article 4 Direction covers parts of the West End, streets near to De Montfort University’s campus and Leicester Royal Infirmary, numerous streets in the area between New Walk and HMP Leicester, as well as most of Clarendon Park and a section south of Lancaster Road.

The latest proposals would extent the West End zone to stretch from Rowley Fields, to Westcotes, Newfoundpool and parts of the Waterside area, while the Clarendon Park area would be extended to incorporate much of Knighton Fields, Knighton, Stoneygate and part of Aylestone.

A third new area would include much of Spinney Hills and Highfields.

The eight-week online consultation gives details of the proposed areas, and offers a chance for people to give their opinions on the plans. The information from the consultation will form part of the decision-making process over whether or not to extend the Article 4 Direction.

The consultation runs from November 18 until January 13, 2022. If the proposals go ahead, the extended Article 4 Direction would be in place 12 months later.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Since 2014, the Article 4 Direction already in place in parts of the city has proved to be a useful tool in controlling the numbers of HMOs in any given area.

“While HMOs do have role in meeting the housing needs of groups such as short-term workers, lower-income households and students, they also reduce the number of homes available for families, reduce the variety of housing in an area, create more transient accommodation and are potentially linked to increased noise and disturbance from some occupants.

“We have focused our use of this legislation to areas where high numbers of HMOs risk having a real impact of the rest of the community, to allow us to protect those communities from becoming saturated with such properties.

“Over the last seven years, areas of concentration have expanded, with higher numbers of HMOs appearing beyond the original areas. It is therefore important that this legislation is available to us to prevent unrestricted numbers of HMOs from appearing elsewhere in the city.

“This consultation is a chance for people to tell us their thoughts on that – whether they are residents, landlords, tenants or any other interested parties – so we can use that information in making our decision on whether to move ahead with expanded Article 4 Direction.”

The decision to review the existing arrangements will come into effect on November 9.

To take part in the consultation from November 18, visit here.