Croydon Council is proposing to protect family homes by requiring planning permission to convert properties into Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) following a campaign started in Thornton Heath.
Originally the council were looking at providing this in specific areas of Thornton Heath with high numbers of HMOs but now there are plans to roll it out across the whole borough next year.
The Chronicle and Thornton Heath Community Action Team have been lobbying for the introduction of Article 4 since 2017.
The case was originally highlighted after two large Victorian houses began to collapse on Manchester Road while the basements were being converted for use as a HMO. One of the houses was taken down and is still a pile of rubble (see picture).
Last month The Chronicle reported on opposition to a planning application for change of use from a six-bedroom HMO to an eight-bedroom HMO at 93 Melfort Road which prompted 12 objections.
Research has identified a shortage of family homes in the borough and over the past 10 years, Croydon has lost hundreds of family homes to conversion into HMOs.
Currently, multi-bedroom properties can be converted to small HMOs (houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals) under permitted development – which means planning consent is not required for the change of use.
From January 2020, Croydon Council plans to introduce an Article 4 Direction, a planning restriction which would remove this ability, requiring owners to seek planning permission for the change.
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services said:“For some time we have been concerned by the rapid decline in multi-bedroom homes in the borough, particularly given the acute housing need and people’s inability to access affordable home ownership.
“It is clear it is becoming more and more important to protect family homes in Croydon. While we recognise the need for HMOs, we can already see that in some parts of the borough there are just too many HMOs in a small area for the local infrastructure to cope.
“This Article 4 Direction will enable us to ensure we have a supply of decent housing for Croydon families to live in, as well as giving our residents moving into newly converted HMOs reassurance around basic rights, such as space requirements.”
The council is inviting people to make representations about this proposal for six weeks from Thursday 24 January. At the end of this period, and after reviewing comments made by the public, the council will decide whether the Article 4 Direction is to be confirmed. If approved, it will come into force on 28 January 2020.
Representations must be made before midnight, Friday 8 March 2019 and can be done so by emailing email@example.com or posting to; Spatial Planning Service, 6th Floor Zone B, Bernard Weatherill House, 8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA.
A copy of the Article 4 Direction, map and associated documents explaining the reason for making the Direction, will be available to view at Access Croydon and Town Hall during the six-week representation period, as well as online at www.croydon.gov.uk/HMOArticle4 from Thursday.