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Supplementary Planning Documents and Planning Statements

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7. HMO SPD and Article 4 Direction

2014 Article 4 Direction

In January 2014 we established an "Article 4 Direction" over part of Exeter to restrict the "permitted development rights" of homeowners to change their properties from dwellings (Use Class C3 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended)) to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) (Use Class C4).  This means that, within the area covered by the Article 4 Direction, planning permission is required to change a house to an HMO. HMO Licence approval does not mean that you have automatic planning permission, in the same way that planning permission does not guarantee that an HMO Licence will be granted. We introduced the Article 4 Direction to help manage the potential impacts of the increasing numbers of students living in the city and studying at the University of Exeter. The parts of Exeter currently affected are shown this map of the 2014 Article 4 Direction area.


2023-24 work to introduce a new Article 4 Direction

In early 2022 we appointed a consultant to review the 2014 Article 4 Direction. This followed the receipt of a petition from local residents about an increasing number of HMOs outside the area covered by the 2014 Article 4 Direction. See the consultant’s Review of the Article 4 Direction Houses in Multiple Occupation Supplementary Planning Document report.

Based on the consultant’s review, we publicly consulted on the future of the 2014 Article Direction for a period of six weeks in the summer of 2023. The results of the consultation are summarised in this Consultation Report.

Informed by the consultation responses, on 12 December 2023 the Council approved the making of a proposed new Article 4 Direction to replace the 2014 version with "non-immediate effect". The proposed new Article 4 Direction can viewed here, or by scrolling down to the interactive map.   Alternatively, a reference copy of the proposed Article 4 Direction can be viewed at Exeter City Council’s Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1JN from Monday to Friday, 9am until 2pm, or at public libraries in Exeter and Topsham during opening hours. The report to Council can also be downloaded.

In order for the proposed Article 4 Direction to be established, the Council carried out a period of statutory “notification” from 18 December 2023 until 15 January 2024. During this time, people were able to comment on the proposed Direction.  Subject to a review of the comments received and the relevant Council decision, the next stage will be for the Council to confirm the new Article 4 Direction.

It is proposed that the new Article 4 Direction will come into force on 23 December 2024, subject to a review of the comments received during the notification period and the Direction being confirmed by Exeter City Council.


Proposed Article 4 Direction 2023 Map

The area in pink covers the proposed new Article 4 Direction area. You can type your address in the search bar on the map to locate your property.


Houses in Multiple Occupation Supplementary Planning Document (HMO SPD)

On 12 December 2023 we adopted a Supplementary Planning Document which provides more detailed guidance on how policy H5 of the Exeter Local Plan First Review and policy C1 of the Exeter St James Neighbourhood Plan will be implemented, in order to help manage the impact of student-HMOs within the area covered by the Article 4 Direction.

The SPD is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. The 2023 SPD replaces the previous version of the document, adopted in 2014.

See the 2023 Houses in Multiple Occupation Supplementary Planning Document and it’s Adoption Statement.


Letting Agent Signboards Protocol

In April 2014 we introduced a "Signboards Protocol" the purpose of which is to secure agreement from letting agents to display less signboards in an area of the city where there are complaints that there are excessive numbers and to avoid the need for us to seek additional controls on signboards.

Letting Agent Signboards Protocol