Yesterday, Grant Shapps announced that the promised further amendments to the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) designed to undo the creation of the C4 planning class had been laid before Parliament.
We have previously posted on the creation of the new C4 planning class and you can find all our posts on this topic by following this link.
Essentially the new amendments mean that movement between the C3 and C4 use classes in either direction is permitted without the need to apply for permission. Larger HMOs which have more than 6 occupiers will not be able to take advantage of the new Order as these properties do not fall into the C3 or C4 category and they will probably still need to seek planning consent.
Irrespective of the changes there is still significant doubt as to whether planning consent is actually required for all HMOs as it is debatable as to whether a change to HMO use (of any size) necessarily constitutes a material change of use.
Individual local authorities will still have the ability to make a direction (known as an article 4 direction) to dis-apply this part of the GPDO for parts of their district if they can present a reasonable case for doing so. They will need to conduct a suitable consultation in advance of making such a direction. Further, for 12 months after the direction has been made there is the possibility of claiming compensation if financial loss is suffered by the local authority refusing to grant planning consent in respect of a matter which would have been exempt from the need to seek planning consent but for the direction. Given the squeeze on budgets it is doubtful that many local authorities will want to incur the costs necessary to make a direction.
Finally it should be remembered that none of this applies in Wales.
The full Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (No.2) (England) Order 2010 can be seen here.