Lambeth considering new planning controls on HMOs in Streatham after concerns raised by residents

29 February 2024

Written by: Lambeth Council

News and announcements

Lambeth is considering tighter controls over large house shares in parts of the borough after residents raised concerns over their impact on the local area.

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Lambeth considering new planning controls on HMOs in Streatham after concerns raised by residents

The council is proposing to implement a new planning mechanism in relation to the creation of new Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Streatham Common & Vale and Streatham St Leonard’s.

Residents in both wards have expressed concerns relating to the notably high number of HMOs locally, and associated issues including instances of reported anti-social behaviour, the loss of family homes and the impact on the character of each area.

At present, a change of use from a standard residential property to a ‘small HMO’ (which has between three and six occupiers) does not need planning permission as this is considered ‘permitted development’ under national planning legislation. This means the Council currently has no powers to prevent conversions of standard residential properties into small HMOs.

The proposed new planning controls in relation to ‘small HMOs’, in the form of an ‘Article 4 Direction’, would make planning permission necessary for the change of use of existing standard residential properties to new ‘small HMOs’ in the two affected wards in the future. When assessing such planning applications, the council would be able to consider matters such as local amenity and the quality of the proposed accommodation.

The council has carefully considered the implications of introducing an ‘immediate’ Article 4 Direction to cover the two wards of Streatham Common & Vale and Streatham St Leonard’s, however the council concluded that the potential financial liability to the council associated with such an ‘immediate’ Article 4 Direction would be too high.

Therefore, the Council is proposing to introduce a ‘non-immediate’ Article 4 Direction. This would ensure that, provided the relevant permitted development right is withdrawn and that at least 12 months’ notice is given of the Article 4 Direction, the Council would be able to apply planning controls to future HMO conversions without being liable to pay compensation to the property developers.

Word from the Cabinet

Councillor Danny Adilypour, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Growth and New Homes said: “We are extremely concerned about the way some HMOs are negatively impacting our residents and communities.

“This is why we are evaluating all options available to us and will take the necessary action to prevent any further inconvenience and distress.”

A decision regarding whether to introduce a ‘non-immediate’ Article 4 Direction to cover the two wards will be considered by Cllr Adilypour next month [March 2024].  If there is a decision to proceed with the ‘non-immediate’ Article 4 Direction, a statutory process will then need to be followed, which will include a public consultation and referral of the case for government review, before the Article 4 Direction can be confirmed.