Policy HOU 4: Houses in multiple occupation
- The change of use to a house in multiple occupation (HMO), or proposals to extend existing HMOs to accommodate additional residents, will be permitted provided that:
- the number of existing HMOs within 50 metres of the application site does not exceed 10% of the total number of dwellings;
- the extended or proposed HMO would not ‘sandwich’ an existing dwelling (C3) between two HMOs;
- the proposal would not have an adverse impact on:
- the character and appearance of the property or the local area;
- on-street car parking levels;
- the capacity of local services/facilities; or
- the amenity or environment of surrounding occupiers;
- the property is of a size, whereby the proposed layout, room sizes, daylight provision, range of facilities and external amenity space of the HMO would ensure an adequate standard of residential amenity for future occupiers;
- adequate provision is made in the curtilage of the dwelling for covered cycle parking; and
- adequate provision is made in the site for waste and recycling storage.
- Exceptions to criteria 1(i) and 1(ii) may be applied where a proposal is made in a group of properties, for example a terrace, where the number of dwellings remaining in C3 use is so low (one or two dwellings) that the proposal would not cause further harm to the overall character of the area and the proposal is supported by evidence footnote 17 to show that there is no reasonable demand for the existing C3 use.
8.23 A HMO is defined as a house or flat occupied by three or more individuals who form two or more unrelated households who share basic amenities. HMOs are classified by the Uses Classes Order as use class C4 (between three and six residents) or Sui Generis (of its own kind) (more than six residents). Permitted development rights enable the change of use of a dwelling (C3) to a small HMO (up to six residents) (C4) without the need for planning permission.
8.24 HMOs are an important source of low cost, private sector housing for those on low incomes, students and those seeking temporary accommodation. However, the increase in the number of people living in a dwelling will increase demands on services and infrastructure above the demands of a smaller household traditionally associated with a C3 dwellinghouse. A concentration of HMOs in one area can change the character of that residential area, result in a decline in the settled population and harm the amenity of surrounding residents.
8.25 The policy seeks to strike a balance. It recognises the role that HMOs can play in achieving a range of accommodation whilst ensuring that sufficient policy controls exist to address potential adverse impacts that may arise from them, particularly in areas where there is a greater concentration of such accommodation.
8.26 Three non-immediate Article 4 Directions in parts of Crewe have been made to remove permitted development rights for HMOs accommodating between three and six unrelated residents. The Directions took effect on 1 November 2021. The council will continue to monitor the concentration of HMOs elsewhere in the borough and the use of any additional Article 4 Directions will be limited to situations where necessary to protect local amenity or the well-being of the area and apply to the smallest geographical area possible. The Houses in Multiple Occupation Supplementary Planning Document was adopted on 9 September 2021 and provides additional guidance, including the density calculation and potential exceptions to this.
8.27 The policy is intended to work in parallel with mandatory HMO licensing rules, which became effective on 01 October 2018. All HMOs that accommodate five or more people who form two or more households, are now required to be licensed. Licensing requirements include a minimum size for rooms used as sleeping accommodation and conditions to require license holders to comply with any scheme issued by the local housing authority for the storage and disposal of household waste.
(Footnote 17) To demonstrate that no other occupiers can be found who could occupy the dwelling in C3 use, the dwelling should be marketed for sale or rent at a realistic price for a period of not less than 12 months. The council will require evidence that a proper marketing exercise has been carried out including a record of all offers and expressions of interest received.
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