Council may appeal decision on HiMOs

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MILTON Keynes Council may appeal a decision by a High Court Judge to dismiss its case challenging the regulation of HiMOs (houses in multiple occupancy).

A spokesman said it was disappointed but argued the ruling showed the government had made mistakes.

Cabinet member for planning, Mike Galloway, said: “The judge said the consultation carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government was unfair, but not so unfair that it was unlawful.

“We are looking at our options now as to whether or not we appeal and we will make that decision, as we have throughout this process, with the backing of the full council.”

The ruling, announced on Monday, means landlords will be free to convert properties into HiMOs without the need for compulsory planning permission.

The council appeared in court last week after a High Court judge ordered that a substantive hearing be held, temporarily boosting the council’s campaign to scrap Government proposals to relax laws on HiMOs.

The decision was initially deferred meaning the councils involved, including Milton Keynes, Newcastle City Council, Oxford City Council and Charnwood Borough Council, were forced to wait.

However, after a few days’ deliberation Judge Sir Michael Harrison dismissed the challenge which would have seen the law change for the third time in a year.

On April 1, 2010, the Labour government said planning permission would have to be obtained for all HiMOs in England.

Then on June 17, housing minister Grant Shapps made the decision to scrap the need for developers to apply for planning permission before converting a property into a HiMO.

To overcome the new rules the council imposed an article 4 order under the Town and Country Planning Act, which meant landlords would still have to apply for planning permssion.

For now it may be the final nail in the coffin, but a decision on an appeal, which has to be lodged within the next 28 days, will be made in the next few days.