Exeter City Council’s decision to refuse permission for the change of use of a two-bedroom terraced house on Hoopern Street to a three-bedroom House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has been overturned at appeal.
The house is located in the Article 4 direction area in which such changes of use under permitted development rights have been prohibited by a Supplementary Planning Document since 2012.
The policy was introduced to limit the impact of student occupation of residential housing stock in the area near the university’s Streatham campus.
The planning inspector who heard the appeal said that the council had provided insufficient evidence to support its case, failing to quantify the impact of an additional resident at the property and identify specific adverse effects resulting from increased occupancy.
The decision is not expected to set a precedent for other similar changes of use in the Article 4 direction area, which will continue to be decided on a case by case basis.
Widespread conversion of residential housing stock for student occupancy continues across the city, inside and outside the Article 4 direction area.
Around 16,000 students currently live in more than 4,500 HMOs in Exeter which could otherwise be used for residential housing by local people, with continuing university expansion set to remove another 500 dwellings from Exeter’s residential housing stock next year.
Exeter City Council promised to review its student accommodation policies in November last year in response to a petition presented by Pennsylvania residents calling for protection from the encroachment of student landlords buying up the remaining residential housing in their area.
However it appears that the council has yet to progress its review, of which there is no sign in its forward plan of business which runs until April next year.