Houses in Multiple Occupation Article 4 Direction Proposal

Consultation on Proposed Controls on HMO Conversions in Filton and Stoke Park & Cheswick


To withdraw specified permitted development rights to convert dwelling houses (C3) to small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (C4) without planning permission, within specifically defined areas of Filton and Stoke Park & Cheswick wards through a direction made under Schedule 3 Procedures for Article 4 Directions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015


Statutory powers and procedures for South Gloucestershire Council in making an Article 4 Direction (AD4)  are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO). This enables the Secretary of State or the relevant local planning authority e.g. South Gloucestershire Council, to withdraw specified permitted development rights across a defined area in order to support the necessary protection of the local amenity and/or the wellbeing of the area.

In the areas where an Article 4 Direction applies, all property owners or prospective landlords would no longer have permitted development rights to convert a dwelling house (C3) to a small HMO (C4) without planning permission. This would not mean that HMOs within A4D areas are unacceptable, rather that it would bring these into the planning system to allow consideration of the proposed development against the council’s adopted Local Plan policies and supporting Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), adopted October 2021.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (July 2021) requires that Article 4 Directions (A4D) are only implemented when it is ‘necessary to protect local amenity of the well-being of an area’ and should be used only where they are supported by a robust evidence base and apply to the smallest geographical areas possible. The National Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) further sets out that an A4D should be justified in both its purpose and extent. The definition of any proposed A4D boundary must therefore be carefully considered and evidence-based in order to comply with national policy.

Housing in Multiple Occupation in South Gloucestershire

Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are properties rented out to at least 3 people who are not from one household (for example such as a family) but share facilities like a bathroom or kitchen. Most HMOs are conversions or subdivisions of larger houses and currently, planning permission is only needed if providing 7 or more bedrooms.

HMOs meet a variety of needs for private rented housing ranging from young professionals ‘house-shares’ and students wanting to live off campus, as well as providing a vital source of housing supply for people on lower incomes. For many people, HMOs provide a practical and affordable housing option that meets their housing needs.

However, evidence shows that there has been an increase in this type of development in South Gloucestershire over recent years to meet demand. This has resulted in concentrations of HMOs in particular parts of the district which has, in some cases, heightened concerns from neighbouring properties and wider community with regard to parking pressures, noise, management of waste and recycling and anti-social behaviour. This has led the council to consider whether some further controls on the increase in HMOs are required.

A technical report prepared by Arup

In recognition of continued demand for HMOs in the district, as well as concerns raised by residents over potential harmful effects associated with such development, the Council commissioned Arup to update its understanding of HMOs and reconsider if there is a justified case to introduce one or more A4Ds. The report’s findings concluded that HMOs are not evenly distributed in South Gloucestershire and that for much of the authority there are very few HMOs, with no evidence of this type of development impacting on the community.

There is subsequently very limited justification for interventions to HMOs to be required at a district-wide scale and such an approach would not align with how the National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPF) directs A4Ds to be applied. 

This study however has identified that there is evidence of concentrations of HMOs in areas where demand is primarily driven by a large student population and a concentration of major employment sites, as well as the opportunities for developers to achieve high yields meeting this demand. This indicates that HMOs provide a crucial component of the housing market and housing stock in these areas, particularly in the context of the need for housing that is affordable.

Proposal for consultation

South Gloucestershire Council is now consulting on making an Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights for a change of use from a dwelling house (Use Class C3) to a House in Multiple Occupation (Use Class C4) within two  areas in: Stoke Park & Cheswick ward and to the east of Southmead Road and Gloucestershire Road North, in the  Filton ward.

This proposal to introduce the A4Ds is considered to be most compliant with national planning policy  guidance that requires that an A4D is justified and necessary, as well that they should cover the smallest geographic area possible.

In coming to this outcome, it is considered that there is not a sufficient or evidenced case to justify an A4D based on wards, given that the HMO concentrations are demonstrably localised to areas within wards. Furthermore, it is considered that a ‘do nothing’ approach would not be appropriate given that there is evidence that some areas of the district have significant HMO concentrations and communities are experiencing harm to their local amenity, which could be in part attributed to such development.

To comment on the proposal for an Article 4 Direction for Houses in Multiple Occupation please fill out our online survey. Please note that responses received, including your details, cannot be kept confidential and will be made publicly available. 

The boundaries of the proposed A4D boundaries is shown here

The full Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure decision report incorporating equalities considerations, to make a non-immediate Article 4 Direction is available here

The technical report prepared by Arup is available here


Public representations regarding the proposed Article 4 Direction(s) are invited for a period of 6 weeks on South Gloucestershire Council Consultations, running from 7th February to 23.59 on 21st March 2022.

This phase is promoted via:

  • On South Gloucestershire Council’s website
  • Local media and social media on South Gloucestershire Council’s Facebook page
  • Through an advert in Western Daily Press which covers the whole of South Gloucestershire Council area
  • Through an advert in the Filton Voice 
  • Public Notices placed across the two proposed A4D boundary areas.
  • In South Gloucestershire Libraries and One-Stop Shops (please refer to for locations and opening times).
  • Letter delivered to every household within the two proposed A4D boundary areas
  • Email/ letter sent to everyone on the South Gloucestershire Council’s Local Plan database
  • The West of England Landlords forum and to landlords of Licenced HMO properties in South Gloucestershire
  • Our equalities partners with the objective to strengthen community and stakeholder involvement and awareness of the procedures for implementing the A4Ds

Following an evaluation of the representations an Executive Member decision will be made whether or not to proceed with the making of the Article 4 Direction(s). If the decision is to proceed the Article 4 Direction(s) will come into force by 31st December 2022. 

Further details about this and the timetable will be published on our website in due course.

All comments made on this consultation will be published online in due course. Please note that responses received, including personal details, cannot be kept confidential and will be made publicly available.

Copy of the South Gloucestershire Council’s Privacy Notice is available here

This consultation has now closed and we are analysing the results, which will be published here in due course.


  • Opened
    7 Feb 2022 at 00:00
  • Closed
    4 Apr 2022 at 23:59


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