HMOs and Planning- Judicial Review

We have just been informed (thanks, Chris) that Milton Keynes Council has launched a judicial review of the decision by the new Coalition Government to make a further amendment to the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO).

As most of our readers will know the previous government introduced a new C3 planning use class which was designed to deal with HMOs. Movement from the C3 use class (for ordinary residential dwellings) potentially required planning consent while movement the other way did not require consent as it was permitted under the GPDO. This was an unpopular move and therefore the new coalition government has made a further change to the GPDO to permit movement from the C4 to the C3 use class. Accordingly, the announcement of the publication of the amendments to the GPDO came was made on 8 September and came into force on 1 October. All our posts on this topic can be found by following this link.

Milton Keynes Council is unhappy about the change which prevents them from regulating HMOs in their area through the planning process. At a meeting on 8 September they resolved to challenge the change on the basis that there was insufficient consultation and that the consultation was based on a decision that had, in effect, already been made. This has been done and, according to the Council’s press release consent has been given and the Government has until 8 October to file a defence.

One of the things the Council is seeking is an injunction suspending the operation of the order and they are also ultimately seeking that the change be quashed. This would of course mean that planning permission would potentially then be needed for changes from the C3 to C4 use class. The Council is also seeking a change in the legislation to allow them to opt-out of the permitted development order (called an article 4 direction) without the risk of having to pay compensation. Therefore it seems likely that, even if they were to lose the judicial review application, the Council will seek to make an article 4 direction in their area so requiring Milton Keynes landlords to seek planning permission for C4 use.

At this stage it might be wise for landlords who are letting under the C4 use class to seek a certificate of lawful use from the relevant planning authority which will legalise their actions.


  • Mark 6th October 2010 at 1:20 pm

    We have previously made this recommendation to clients…….. In Oxford, the local planning department could find themselves dealing with over 5,000 applications for lawful use…… should keep them out of the austerity fires?

  • phil 6th October 2010 at 3:38 pm

    What’s the advice for those just about to buy on the back of the GPDO on 1 October and change a C3 to a C4?

    If the Government do not form a defence by 8 October, is that the GPDO gone, and planning permission needed again for C3 to C4?

  • PainSmith 6th October 2010 at 4:17 pm

    The Court will need to decide how it will deal with the application. Just because the government does not file anything that does not mean that the judicial review will automatically succeed. However, it would be very improbable for the government not to enter a defence.

    Our advice would be to ask the vendor to obtain a certificate of lawful use prior to completion.

  • Simon 11th October 2010 at 10:03 am

    Do we have an update from Friday (8th Oct 2010) – did the goverment file anything in regards to this case?

  • Mark 11th October 2010 at 11:48 am

    A client who has just applied for certificate of lawful use has been advised that should there be a change in the law whilst his application is being processed, they may have to refund his fee!

  • Mark 12th October 2010 at 8:53 am

    What a surprise………Oxford City are involved in the action with Milton Keynes. According to the principal planning officer this AM there are currently “negotiations” occurring between the interested parties and the high court.

  • Simon 19th October 2010 at 9:39 am

    The Oxford Times is reporting that the High Court has ruled in the Goverment’s favour.

    Link here:

  • Simon 25th January 2011 at 1:34 pm

    2nd time lucky – Milton Keynes gets it’s full Judicial Review hearing…

    Here’s the link:

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