Council bid to stop ‘studentification’ of towns
Homeowners and landlords aiming to capitalise on Wolverhampton’s booming student population are being urged to get planning advice before letting their properties following the introduction of a new rule by the city council.
Although current law allows family homes to be adapted for small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) without planning permission under Permitted Development rules, Wolverhampton is one of a number of local authorities that have introduced new measures requiring planning permission to be obtained for the change of use to reduce the ‘studentification’ of residential areas.
Solicitor Mark Turner, a planning specialist with city law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said more than 30 local authorities in university cities including Bath, Manchester and Bristol have introduced the rules to increase their control over the number of private houses used as houses of multi occupancy (HMO).
Notice of the change in Wolverhampton was made in September 2016 and it came into force on September 14 this year.
He explained: “These councils, including Wolverhampton, have used Article 4 directions to remove permitted development rights in certain areas so that anyone wanting to convert a family house to a small HMO would need planning permission for the change of use.
“For residential landlords, this means that they will need to get planning permission if they are proposing to rent their private houses out to a group of up to six unrelated people.
“It’s a controversial move because some consider students and young professionals to be valuable to the local economy because they use the shops, pubs, takeaways, cafes and restaurants etc. However, others dislike the anti social behaviour, which can be associated with these groups, particularly students.”
Mark added: “Wolverhampton City Council has obviously introduced the Article 4 direction to prevent over ‘studentification’ of areas.
“Anyone aiming to change the use of their property to a HMO for students or young professionals would benefit from legal advice from a planning lawyer to increase their chances of being granted permission, especially as this is a new issue for the area.”