IMPORTANT: The Planning Inspectorate has advised its Inspectors that an HMO can benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO …

The following document has recently appeared on the Planning Portal website:

  • Advice produced by the Planning Inspectorate for use by its Inspectors - 15 January 2014 - Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and Permitted Development Rights (pdf).

UPDATE: The above document appeared on the Planning Portal website in January 2014 (and was available via this link), but was subsequently removed in 2015-2016. As such, it's difficult to know what weight should now be given to the above document.

SUMMARY:

The above document advises Inspectors that "Houses in Multiple Occupation, including those which fall within Class C4 can benefit from the permitted development rights granted to dwellinghouses by the GDPO".  The above document indicates that a property will benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO if 1) it accords with the definition of a "dwelling house" as set out by the High Court case "Gravesham Borough Council v The Secretary of State for the Environment and Michael W O'Brien (1982)" (i.e. it affords to those who use it the facilities required for day-to-day private domestic existence), and 2) it isn't a building containing one or more flats, or a flat contained within such a building.

NOTES BY THE PLANNING JUNGLE WEBSITE:

  • Although the first part of the above document states that an HMO "can" benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO, the second part of the above document indicates that an HMO does benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO, unless either 1) it doesn't accord with the definition of a "dwelling house" as set out by "Gravesham", or 2) it contains, or is, a flat.  This implies that a typical HMO does benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO.
  • It's likely to be difficult for LPAs to know what weight to attach to the above document, particularly noting that it's produced by the Planning Inspectorate (i.e. an "executive agency" of DCLG) for use by its Inspectors, rather than produced by DCLG for use by everyone.  However, it's likely that Inspectors will attach significant weight to the above document.  This means that those LPAs that continue to apply the interpretation that an HMO does not benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO (i.e. by attaching limited weight to the above document) are likely to find that their interpretation is not supported at appeal.
  • For reference, it appears that over the last few months there has been a significant change in how Inspectors interpret this issue.  For example, the "Part 1 of the GPDO - Appeal Decision Summaries" document on this website shows that there were appeal decisions in May 2012, January 2013, and March 2013 in which the Inspectors concluded that a C4 HMO does not benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO, followed by appeal decisions in November 2013, December 2013, and January 2014 in which the Inspectors concluded that a C4 HMO does benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO.
  • The fact that several Inspectors (i.e. within the above earlier appeal decisions) concluded that an HMO does not benefit from Part 1 of the GPDO, and the fact that the Planning Inspectorate has now decided to produce the above document, indicates that the legislation and the DCLG "Technical Guidance" document do not provide a clear answer to this issue.  It's difficult to understand why DCLG does not address this issue by amending either the legislation or the DCLG "Technical Guidance" document, which would be a significantly better solution than everyone having to refer to a document produced by the Planning Inspectorate for use by its Inspectors.  Indeed, it's likely that many people will not be aware of the above document produced by the Planning Inspectorate, particularly noting that there does not appear to be a link to the above document from any of the pages on the Planning Portal website.
  • For info, a list of other similar documents produced by the Planning Inspectorate for use by its Inspectors can be found via this search on Google.

UPDATES TO THE PLANNING JUNGLE WEBSITE: