Have your say on making all landlords apply for planning permission for multiple occupancy housing throughout Northampton

In July 2018, HMO Action Group Far Cotton joined forces to prevent an influx of shared houses where they live, near the new university Waterside Campus.
In July 2018, HMO Action Group Far Cotton joined forces to prevent an influx of shared houses where they live, near the new university Waterside Campus.

Northampton Borough Council is consulting on a proposal that would mean all property conversions to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) anywhere in the borough would require planning permission.

Currently, permission is only required to convert houses into small HMOs for three to six unrelated people sharing basic amenities in Sunnyside, St David’s, Obelisk, Northampton North and Central, parts of Far Cotton and Delapré and parts of Cliftonville wards. In planning terms, this is known as an 'Article 4 Direction'.

All other areas in the borough fall under a 'permitted development right', which allows conversion to a small HMO to take place without planning permission.

If a borough-wide Article 4 Direction is agreed, this permitted development right would cease.

The conversion of a house to a larger HMO, for seven or more unrelated people, already requires planning permission.

The introduction of a borough-wide Article 4 Direction was a recommendation made in a 2018 study of HMOs produced on the council’s behalf by Loughborough University.

The study outlined the issues associated with the presence of too many HMOs in parts of Northampton, including fly tipping, an excess of parked cars and general poor upkeep of properties.

It concluded that a borough-wide Article 4 Direction could reduce the over concentration of HMOs in areas just outside the boundaries of areas already covered by Article 4 Directions.

The council would also be better able to regulate and effectively plan for the distribution of HMOs across the wider borough, as well as ensure that high quality and well managed HMOs are available, the study suggested.

The consultation closes at 5pm on 5, December 2019. If a borough-wide Article 4 Direction is established, it will come into force on 13, November 2020.

Consultation documents can be viewed here and comments should be submitted via email to planningpolicy@northampton.gov.uk or in writing to Planning Policy, Northampton Borough Council, The Guildhall, St Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE.

READ MORE: Northampton's HMO Action Group wants to see large vacant buildings converted for students