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Planning permission and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Permitted development allows certain types of building alterations or changes of use to go ahead without having to make a planning application.

In some areas and for specific buildings we've removed these rights by introducing an Article 4 Direction. Article 4 Directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. They're mostly used for listed buildings and in conservation areas.

This means you'll have to apply for planning permission if you want to change a house (C3) to a small HMO (C4) in the following neighbourhoods:

  • Beacon Park and Pennycross
  • City Centre
  • East End
  • Efford
  • Hartley and Mannamead
  • Higher Compton
  • Lipson and Laira
  • Mount Gould
  • Mutley and Greenbank
  • Peverell
  • Stoke and Stonehouse

Article 4 Direction

The changes don't apply to houses that were already being used as a HMO before the change came into force on 14 September 2012.

You'll also still need to apply for planning permission if you want to change the use of a HMO with more than six unrelated individuals or to separate flats or bedsits but it's possible to change a C4 use back to a C3 use without having to apply for planning permission.

The criteria we use to assess planning applications for new Class C4 HMOs can be found in the HMO section of our Supplementary Planning Document.

Certificate of Lawful Use / Existing Development

Where planning permission has not been obtained, or can not be evidenced, you can submit an application for this certificate. These may be needed when selling, or mortgaging a property.

More information about applying for planning permission