South West

Bath and North East Somerset Article 4 consultation ends as housing inspection suspended

Bath and North East Somerset’s Article 4 consultation recently ended, but its implementation is clouded in uncertainty following the suspension of BandNES’ core planning strategy inspection.

The proposed Article 4 direction would cover the whole City of Bath, and mean planning permission would be required for change of use from a family house to a small HMO with effect from 1st July 2013.

The RLA submitted a detailed response opposing the scheme. Amongst its objections, the RLA noted:

  • HMOs contribute to regeneration by making intensive use of the existing stock in places where it might be otherwise under utilised and poorly maintained; such as in Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester.
  • HMOs provide a vital service to the economies of many of our towns and cities, providing mobility for young workers and young professionals and creating vibrant and diverse local communities.
  • HMOs also provide affordable housing for residents at a time of high house prices.
  • Article 4 takes away freedom of choice for people to choose where they live.
  • Article 4 directions simply stop more HMOs being created, and do not alleviate any problems that may already exist. They are simply another layer of bureaucracy. Instead, it is better to address existing problems through existing legislation and powers.

However, the Article 4 proposal has now been overshadowed by the failings exposed by the Planning Inspectorate in its preliminary examination of BandNES’s core planning strategy. The Inspectorate had “fundamental concerns with Council’s methodology for assessing the housing requirement,” which included, “Suppressing housing provision below actual demand,” meaning “local people in need of a home lose out to wealthier in-migrants”.

The Inspectorate concluded, “In the absence of adequate evidence in relation to the housing requirement, there are no main modifications which I can suggest now to move the Examination forward.  Substantial further work by the Council will be required.”

The suspension of the inspection now means that any future implementation of the Article 4 direction would not be backed by a relevant and robust planning framework, posing serious questions about the suitability of the direction.

The RLA will continue to monitor the situation and will report any further developments as they happen.

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The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.

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