Planning success – Section 73 application in relation to varying floor plans of a HMO

Planning House are delighted that a Section 73 application has been approved in relation to varying the approved floor plans of a HMO in Hartlepool to regularise the implemented 7 bedroom scheme.

The scheme was originally approved in 2013 as a 6-bedroom layout with a single storey outrigger part of the former terrace dwelling being assigned to bathroom and toilet space on the approved plans. Interestingly, there was no condition on the permission restricting the number of occupants to no more than 6 people and all rooms were shown as accommodating a double bed. Therefore, the 2013 approval (perhaps inadvertently) permitted a HMO with more than 6 occupants e.g. 12 (a sui generis HMO), remembering that the 3-6 restriction of a Class C4 HMO relates to the number of occupants rather than the number of approved bedrooms (6 bedrooms in this case).

The 2013 planning permission was implemented but the scheme was then amended such that the ground floor bathroom/toilet area was made into a 7th bedroom with other bathrooms and toilets being available in the rest of the building. The client wished to regularise this revised 7-bedroom layout for commercial reasons. Planning House used a Section 73 application to gain approval for the revised 7-bedroom layout arguing that such as sui generis HMO would be within the scope of the original HMO permission that placed no restriction on the number of occupants. This position was accepted by the LPA and the Section 73 approval was issued without a condition restricting the occupation levels.

The Section 73 application also had to deal with the issue of whether the original permission had been lawfully implemented in the first place as two ‘prior to commencement’ type conditions had not been satisfied. We used case law to make a case that the two conditions did not ‘get to the heart of the permission*’ (not true condition precedents) such that the failure to comply with them had not resulted in the implemented development being unlawful. She suggested that one of the conditions could be addressed during the application by way of the submission of a bin storage plan and the other could be resolved later by attaching a reworded condition on the new Section 73 approval. The case officer worked with us to bring the application to a positive conclusion for the applicant.

Related Content:

As well as our set of FREE EBOOKS offering information on the basics of key town planning topics, we’ve also produced handy practical guides to help unravel the red tape of town planning.

Our Practical Guide Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) is available if you are considered a HMO development.  If you are in need of further assistance with anything related to HMO planning, a Town Planner can provide you with the guidance you need for a smooth transition please feel free to CONTACT US to discuss your situation. Our article Understanding Planning Conditions gives you the top 5 things to know about them. We also have a blog that could be useful check it out How Do You Amend A Planning Permission – S96A vs 273.

If you’re not sure if you need help from a Town Planner take a look at blog on When to Hire a Town Planner our download a Guide on How to Choose a Town Planner.

*R (Hart Aggregates Ltd) v Hartlepool Borough Council [2005] EWHC 840 (Admin)