Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Proposed New Article 4(1) Direction with non-immediate effect to remove permitted development rights to a use falling within Class C4 (House in Multiple Occupation).

Members are asked to agree to give 12 months’ prior notice of a new Article 4 Direction with non-immediate effect, under Article 4(1) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended. 

 

Decision:

1.       Agreed to give 12 months’ prior notice of a new Article 4 Direction with non-immediate effect, under Article 4(1) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended. 

 

2.       Noted the Article 4 Direction relates to development comprising of a change of use from a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouse) of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) to a use falling within Class C4 (house in multiple occupation) of that Order, and removes Permitted Development rights for this type of development from the date when the Direction comes into force. 

 

3.       Noted planning permission will therefore be required for change of use from Class C3 to Class C4 once the Article 4 Direction is in force. The Article 4 Direction would apply to the whole of Royal Greenwich.

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills.

 

With the agreement of the Chair, Cabinet was addressed by two members of the public.

 

The Cabinet was addressed by Deborah Boyle who raised concerns as to the necessity of the 12 month period and whether it was supported in law, and suggested based on what had happened in neighbouring boroughs that the delay could lead to an acceleration of the problems being experienced, particularly in Plumstead. She did not understand why the proposals had changed from a near contemporaneous implementation to a future date, and queried whether it might be linked to systematic problems across various Council departments. She related her own experience of a neighbouring conversion to a HMO. She referred to comments made at a meeting in April 2017, which had been attended by Councillors and Officers, indicating there was a lack of communication and different objectives between departments and that this had contributed to rampant levels of HMOs. She requested that there be no delay in the implementation of the Article 4 Direction and that there be publication of a summary of steps which would be taken to deal with departmental shortcomings.

 

In response to questions from the Cabinet, Deborah Boyle stated she would email the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability with details of who had made the comments at the meeting in April. She added that the pressures to provide housing contradicted planning/building controls.

 

In response to questions from the Cabinet the Assistant Director Planning and Building Control (Regeneration Enterprise and Skills) advised that planning enforcement was used to investigate and monitor HMOs. Planning enforcement also worked with other departments and services to provide a joined up approach to tackling the matter from both a planning, environmental health and licensing perspective. But to enforce they needed to be aware of such properties; they were investigating and monitoring about 200 properties at the moment. They could only act when the property was occupied and a breach of planning had occurred and the premises was not being used as a bone fide HMO.  one of the tests they had to apply was whether it had meaningful shared facilities or was self-contained units.

 

The Cabinet was addressed by Eileen Glover. Eileen Glover indicated her support for the Article 4 Direction. She related her personal experience of a HMO being built next door to her, and thanked Officers for their work in the matter. She requested that Cabinet agree Option 3 and implement the Article 4 Direction immediately to prevent people rushing through HMOs during the 12 month period.

 

The Assistant Director Planning and Building Control (Regeneration Enterprise and Skills) confirmed that government’s guidance allowed for either immediate implementation if the authority accepted liability for compensation, or for non-immediate implementation. Officers recommended non-immediate implementation because the liability for compensation claims would be a prohibitive cost which it was estimated could run into tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Assistant Director stated any increase in would-be HMOs during the 12 month period would be dealt with by enforcement.

 

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability informed Cabinet that certain allegations had been made online about why Cabinet Members were making their decision, which he refuted entirely. He had referred the matter to the Council’s Monitoring Officer and suggested that if anyone had any evidence to substantiate the allegations then they should come forward.

 

In relation to the issues that had been raised, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability said that the Council had been open from the beginning about the reason for the 12 month period.  He commented that the Council was aware that residents wanted to see more planning enforcement, the Council was doing more and Plumstead High Street was an example of that. He said that the Council had checked every address that they had been given as a suspected HMO; some had turned out not to be HMOs, some were HMOs with people placed there from other boroughs but those boroughs had not notified Greenwich that they had done so and the Council was working with those boroughs on the matter. He noted that the issue of HMOs cut across departments, across planning, housing and licensing.  With regard to the suggestion that there were different objectives between departments he explained that it had been discovered that there had been online information about grants from housing to develop properties, but it had been checked and none of the grants had gone to HMOs. The Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability said that there had been intensive work on this issue and the Council was committed to resolving the issue.

 

The Chair of Cabinet thanked Deborah Boyle and Eileen Glover for their comments.

 

Resolved -

 

1.       That it be agreed to give 12 months’ prior notice of a new Article 4 Direction with non-immediate effect, under Article 4(1) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended. 

 

2.       That the Article 4 Direction relates to development comprising of a change of use from a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouse) of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) to a use falling within Class C4 (house in multiple occupation) of that Order, and removes Permitted Development rights for this type of development from the date when the Direction comes into force be noted. 

 

3.       That planning permission will therefore be required for change of use from Class C3 to Class C4 once the Article 4 Direction is in force, and that the Article 4 Direction would apply to the whole of Royal Greenwich, be noted.

 

 

NB.  Councillor Sizwe James left the meeting during this item.

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