A consortium of local councils has failed in a bid to challenge the Government in the High Court over a relaxation in the planning regime for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) which pose a particular problem in areas with a large student population.
Oxford, Milton Keynes and Newcastle councils brought a judicial review challenge to regulations brought in by the Coalition that allow homes to be converted into HMOs without planning permission.
The authorities wanted to revert to a previous change in the regulations, brought in by Labour shortly before the general election, which required all local authorities to require planning applications to be made whenever a single-household property was let out to three to six people sharing.
The incoming Coalition government decided that local councils could decide for themselves if they were happy to treat such conversions as permitted development, or wanted to require planning applications.
The three councils argued that the Government‘s consultation exercise was flawed as it largely involved representative organisations rather than individual councils.
But in the High Court, Judge Sir Michael Harrison rejected their challenge. He said: “In my judgment the consultation exercise was not so unfair as to be unlawful.”
6 May 2011