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City council to introduce stricter planning controls to better regulate small HMOs

01 December 2023

Peterborough City Council is to introduce an Article 4 Direction to better regulate small Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in three areas of the city, following a consultation with residents earlier this year. 

The Direction will come into force from Monday 1 January 2024 for two years, after the council wrote to Michael Gove, the Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for permission to enact an Article 4 Direction in Fletton and Woodston, the Hamptons and Park Ward.

The introduction of an Article 4 Direction will mean that small HMOs – houses with three to six tenants – in the areas specified, will require planning permission.

Previously, planning consent for a HMO was only required for seven or more tenants living in a house. These are known as large HMOs.

Following a consultation carried out earlier this year, people’s concerns in the three areas were around noise, litter, anti-social behaviour and parking.

Councillor Peter Hiller, Cabinet Member for Housing, Growth and Regeneration at Peterborough City Council, said: “Small HMOs are a great housing option for many people, but as the city grows, we want to better regulate all types of HMOs so we can ensure any problems that may arise for communities can be addressed.

“We want to help our communities to thrive and make sure tenants in HMOs live in safe and healthy homes. There has been cross-party members’ support for an Article 4 Direction in these three areas of the city and it is one of many ways we’re trying to improve the quality of private sector accommodation and avoid an overconcentration of HMOs in a specific area.”

Small HMOs already in existence prior to the Article 4 Direction would not need to apply for planning consent - an application for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) can be made now, to prove this. Licensing and other regulatory factors (such as Building Regulations) are unaffected by an Article 4 Direction.

Landlords and letting agents will be contacted with 28 days' notice ahead of the Article 4 Direction starting.

The council keeps all Article 4 Directions under regular review, amending where necessary.