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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (amendments to Policy H2)

2.64 The current planning policy framework at Policy H2 sets out the criteria to determine a change of use from residential (use class C3) to a large HMO (use class Sui Generis/SG) district-wide, as well as a change of use from residential (C3) to a small HMO (C4) in Bath, following the introduction of an Article 4 Direction.

2.65 Policy H2 is supplemented by the HMO SPD, which sets out the Council’s approach to the distribution of HMOs in Bath and seeks to address areas of concentration. Various issues relating to HMOs have been discussed during consultation with stakeholders, a number of which will be reviewed as part of the HMO SPD update currently being prepared alongside the Local Plan Partial Update.

2.66 This options consultation relates to the issues raised regarding amendments to policies in the Local Plan. Policy H2 currently relates to assessing applications for a change of use from C3 (residential) to C4 / SG (HMO). The current wording does not provide policy on assessing applications for:

  • New-build HMOs (either C4 (small HMO) or Sui Generis (large HMO),
  • Intensification of existing HMOs from use class C4 (small HMO) to Sui Generis (large HMO), or
  • Change of use from other uses to HMOs, for example, applications relating to the change of use of a shop, community facility or office to provide a HMO.

2.67 These types of development are not dealt with elsewhere in the Placemaking Plan (except for the change of use from an office to a small HMO at policy ED1B), leaving a policy gap in the existing Local Plan, regarding how they should be assessed. Including these types of HMO applications within planning policy will ensure that they are assessed against relevant criteria, specific to the proposed development. Their inclusion will also give more certainty to applicants prior to submission of a planning application.

2.68 As discussed above HMOs are more often in poor condition than other types of housing in the same area. In line with the suggested amendments to Policy CP1 (retro fitting existing buildings), requiring applications for change of use to HMO to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate rating of “C” or higher is being considered.

Proposed policy options for consultation

2.61 Two options are set out below, for comment during consultation.

Consultation Reference DM 18

Amendments to Policy H2

Option 1 seeks to:

  • Increase scope of policy H2 to refer to new build HMOs
  • Increase scope of policy H2 to refer to change of use from other uses, and
  • Introduce supplementary policy H2A to refer to intensification of existing HMOs (C4 to SG)

The option 1 policy approach has been established through the review of the criteria set out in existing policy H2, in order to establish which criteria are relevant to the proposed policy amendments. Where necessary, additional criteria have also been added to the policy wording. (The draft suggested policy is set out below)

Option 2 Retain Policy H2 with no amendments

2.70 The draft policy wording relating to the option 1 approach, comprising:

  • A track-changed version of existing Policy H2, increasing its scope to allow for new-build HMOs and change of use from other uses, and
  • New policy H2A, which allows for intensification of existing HMOs.

Consultation Reference DM 17

Proposed changes to Policy H2 – Houses in Multiple Occupation

District-wide a change of use from residential (C3) to a large HMO (Sui Generis use class) will require planning permission. In Bath, a change of use from residential to a small HMO (C4) will also require planning permission as there is a City-wide Article 4 Direction in place. Planning permission is also required for the provision of new build HMOs, and for the change of use of other uses to HMOs. The following criteria will be considered when determining these applications:

i If the site is within Bath, and within an area with an high concentration of existing HMO (as defined in the Houses in Multiple Occupation in Bath Supplementary Planning Document, or successor document), further changes of use to HMO use and proposals for new build HMO will not be supported as they will be contrary to supporting a balanced community;

ii The HMO use is incompatible with the character and amenity of established adjacent uses;

iii The HMO use significantly harms the amenity of adjoining residents through a loss of privacy, visual and noise intrusion;

iv The HMO use on its own or cumulatively results in a severe transport impact;

Applications for change of use only will also be assessed against the following criteria:

v The HMO use results in the unacceptable loss of accommodation in a locality, in terms of mix, size and type;

vi The development prejudices the continued commercial use of ground/ lower floors.

vii The HMO use results in the unacceptable loss of a commercial use, in conflict with other Local Plan policies.

Where new build HMO are proposed, development should also be consistent with other relevant Local Plan policies and guidance relating to new build residential accommodation.

A condition restricting the number of occupants may be attached to permissions where deemed necessary to ensure that no further harmful intensification will occur.