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Local authorities lose appeal over planning permission for HMOs

Posted: 4th January 2012   In: Commercial Property, Residential Conveyancing

Three councils have lost their appeal for a judicial review of the Coalition Government’s decision to scrap the need for planning permission when converting single dwellings into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

The need for planning permission was introduced in April 2010 by the last Labour Government after it had conducted a consultation with interested parties the previous year.

However, the new Coalition Government decided that imposing a blanket need for planning permission in such cases could not be justified. It feared it would deter landlords from providing much needed low cost accommodation. 

It carried out an informal consultation with key stakeholders and then abolished the planning permission requirement in October 2010 – only six months after it had been introduced.

This led to a call for a judicial review of the decision by three local authorities – Milton Keynes, Oxford and Newcastle. They argued that Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, had failed to consult councils sufficiently before proceeding.

In giving the court’s decision, Lord Justice Pill said the issue of whether or not planning permission should apply was a macro-political decision. “The Secretary of State was minded to make the orders challenged notwithstanding the strong, articulated objections to them by local planning authorities, of which he was aware. 

“The decision to make them was a political decision which the Secretary of State was entitled to make.”

Please contact Eugene Pritchard or Kevin Walsh if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article.