We recently helped our client establish the lawful use of 3 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), after they found themselves subject to an enforcement investigation due to an Article 4 Direction.
Article 4 Directions and changes of use?
An Article 4 Direction can be imposed by the Secretary of State or the local planning authority and in basic terms means specific permitted development rights can be withdrawn across a particular location or area. The restrictions imposed will vary on a case by case basis and the specific wording of the direction.
In this instance, an Article 4 Direction issued in 2013 by Newham Council removed permitted development rights for changes of use from C3 (dwelling houses) to C4 (houses in multiple occupation), meaning this type of change of use requires planning permission in Newham.
Despite obtaining HMO licenses our client, a local landlord, was faced with the prospect of enforcement on 3 separate properties, unless evidence was provided to show the HMO use had been in existence for at least 10 years.
Preparing the evidence base for a Certificate of Lawful Use
Our priority was to engage proactively with Newham Council to prevent enforcement action. Following discussions with the case officer, we set about helping our client prepare the necessary evidence base to submit 3 Certificates of Lawful Use for the HMO’s.
As the applicant is responsible for providing sufficient information to support an application, we advised our client on the type of information required to make a suitably robust application.
Bearing in mind that the evidence stretched across 3 different properties, each one consisting of a 4 bed HMO, and covered a 10-year period, a significant part of our task was to analyse and organise hundreds of pieces of evidence, which ranged from council tax records, tenancy agreements and statutory declarations.
Effective presentation of a CoL
We undertook a thorough review of the evidence and prepared commentaries to support the 3 separate applications. We categorised the evidence for ease of reference, created 3 comprehensive GANTT charts, and sourced relevant case law and policy to support our arguments.
This helped to establish a robust framework and our effective use of digital technologies meant that we were able to present a huge body of evidence in the most comprehensive way to enable ease of review for the case officer.
Once we had submitted the applications, we liaised extensively with the Council to discuss any gaps in the evidence and clear up any discrepancies before the target decision date.
We were absolutely delighted that the council approved the 3 Certificates and that we were able to successfully help our client regularise the planning position and avoid enforcement action.
Plainview Planning is a town and country planning consultancy. Our experienced and approachable planning consultants have been providing informed and effective planning support on applications and appeals for householder, developer and commercial projects for over 10 years.
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