Article 4 Direction for Small HMOs for the remainder of the borough 2023

Closed 1 Mar 2023

Opened 18 Jan 2023


Article 4 (1) directions on small HMOs

We are withdrawing permitted development rights from most Houses in Multiple Occupation - HMOs. A small HMO is where between three and six unrelated people share basic amenities, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

What the direction means?

The effect of the Article 4 Directions is that permitted development rights to change any dwelling house (C3) located with Lewisham into a HMO (C4) do not apply and planning permission will be required.

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

  • 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, assessed alongside any other relevant development management policies within the adopted local plan at the time.

The draft Regulation 19 Lewisham Local Plan: Proposed Submission Version proposes a more thorough and stringent policy in regard to HMOs, which factors in their overconcentration. This is set out in policy HO 8 Housing with shared facilities (Houses in Multiple Occupation), which will take effect once the new Local Plan is adopted. Please note that the draft policy may be subject to revisions following consultation feedback, and any amendments at a Local Plan examination.

Why this change is happening?

We want to better manage the impact and standard of small HMOs in Lewisham.

We also want to avoid over concentrations of HMOs within any particular area.

The Article 4 Direction sits alongside other Council measures to improve the standard of HMOs within the borough including the extension to the HMO licensing scheme, where most HMO’s irrespective of size now require a license.

On 7 January 2020, we confirmed a non-immediate Article 4(1) Direction made on 5 March 2019, for Lewisham’s southern wards (previous ward boundaries) of Bellingham, Downham, Grove Park and Whitefoot. For further information please visit our webpage.

Why your views matter

Article 4 Direction for the remainder of the Borough (in effect from 2023) Representation Period

Lewisham Council have now approved the making of a non-immediate Article 4 Direction for the remainder of borough, in addition to the existing 2020 Article 4 Direction covering Lewisham’s southern wards (previous ward boundaries), to withdraw permitted development rights for the change of use from dwelling houses (Use Class C3) to small HMO’s (Use Class C4).

At the end of the representation period, and after reviewing comments made by the public, the Mayor and Cabinet of Lewisham Council will decide whether the Article 4(1) Direction is to be confirmed. If confirmed, the Direction will come into force on the 19th January 2024. An Article 4 Direction does not mean an application for a small HMO would be automatically refused. It merely requires the submission of a planning application for a proposed HMO so that the impacts can be assessed in accordance with the relevant planning policies adopted in the local plan at the time.

This means that planning permission will be required from 19/01/2024 onwards before a single family dwelling house can be converted into a small HMO within all of Lewisham’s remaining wards.

The Article 4 Direction sits alongside other Council measures to improve the standard of HMOs within the borough including the new Additional HMO Licensing Scheme - covering most HMOs - recently introduced in a complementary and coordinated. This approach will help the Council ensure HMOs are of good quality and provide a suitable standard of accommodation in appropriate locations balanced with the need for family housing whilst preventing low-quality accommodation in inappropriate locations.

You can download a copy of the Article 4 Direction, including a map defining the area and associated documents below. These documents are:

  • HMO Article 4 Direction Mayor and Cabinet Report May 2022

  • HMO Review and Evidence Paper May 2022

  • Proposed Article 4 Boundary 

  • HMO Article 4 Direction SEA Screening Assessment

  • Making of Article 4 Direction

  • Notice of Making the Article Direction

Have your say

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

  • fill in the following survey
  • E-mail:
  • Write to: Strategic Planning Team, 4th floor, Civic Suite, Catford SE6 4RX.


  • All Areas


  • Anyone from any background


  • Planning