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Article 4 (1) direction on small HMOs

We are proposing to withdraw permitted development rights from certain HMOs.

On 16 January 2019, we approved the making of a non-immediate Article 4(1) Direction for Lewisham’s southern wards of Bellingham, Downham, Grove Park and Whitefoot.

This means we are proposing to withdraw permitted development rights for the change of use of dwelling houses in Class C3, to small houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in Class C4. A small HMO is where between three and six unrelated people share basic amenities, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

We ran a consultation on this proposal from 7 March to 2 May 2019 and reported to Mayor and Cabinet for a decision. It was agreed that the Direction will come into force on 7 March 2020.

What the proposal means

From 7 March 2020, planning permission will be needed before a single-family dwelling house can be converted into a small HMO within Lewisham’s southern wards.

For planning permission to be granted, applicants will need to show:

  • that there is a specific need in the area
  • that the conversion will not ‘harm’ the character of the area
  • that the accommodation is of a high standard.

If the application meets this criteria, the conversion from a single-family dwelling house to a small HMO may be deemed acceptable, alongside any other relevant development management policies within the adopted local plan at the time.

Why this change is being proposed

We want to better manage the impact and standard of small HMOs in Bellingham, Downham, Grove Park and Whitefoot wards. This is alongside the extension to the HMO licensing scheme, where all HMOs with five or more occupants now need to have a licence.

More information about the proposal

You can download a copy of the Article 4(1) Direction, including a map defining the area and associated documents, using the link below.


You can view hard copies of these documents at Catford Library, Downham Library, Grove Park community library, Sydenham community library and Laurence House Planning Information Office during the eight-week consultation period.

Have your say

To comment on our proposal to introduce the Article 4(1) Direction, you can:

  • fill in the online survey
  • email: planning.policy@lewisham.gov.uk
  • write to: Strategic Planning Team, 2nd floor, Civic Suite, Catford SE6 4RX.