You’re probably aware that Swansea Council havebegun the process of implementing Article 4 Direction. For those of you unsure of what this is, it restricts the change of use of properties from C3 (residential) to C4 (3-6 person HMO) in particular wards due to the effect that high densities of HMOs are having on the area. In Swansea, this obviously relates to the Uplands and Castle wards.
Unlike in some other cities such as Manchester and Cardiff, Swansea Council have yet to set clear guidelines on what constitutes to too high a density. Searching quite thoroughly through their website yields no results about this.
Cardiff Council, for example,are very clear. In the main student wards, a density of 20% or more HMOs within a 50m radius of the property in question is deemed to be too high. Throughout the rest of the city, this falls to 10%. Swansea Council have yet to decide and produce clear literature on their website for this and have, as a result, created a bit of confusion and ambiguity among Swansea landlords and investors.
After some simple research on Swansea Council’s planning permission section of their website, it was interesting to see that of the 8 planning applications in Uplands and Castle (change of use C3 to C4) since the 1 October 2017, 7 were approved and 1 was withdrawn by the applicant. This included an application on both Rhyddings Terrace and St Helens Avenue – two fully-loaded HMO streets extremely popular with students. There were no refusals during this time frame for these wards.
So while this information must only be used as a guide and The Living Room always fully recommends that you always do your due diligence prior to investing by means of contacting Swansea Council’s Planning and HMO teams for accurate advice, it definitely appears that a precedent has been set that while the council are still deliberating over how they’re going to implement Article 4 Direction in Swansea, you may still be able to find a bargain property prime for HMO conversion.
ST THOMAS AND PORT TENNANT HMO CONVERSIONS ON THE RISE
During the same research, it’s also worth noting that there were at least double the applications for C3 to C4 HMO conversions being put forward in St Thomas and (less so) in Port Tennant than in Uplands and Castle.
It’s been an ongoing question for investors in Swansea as to whether the Swansea Uni Bay Campus and the new UWTSD Swansea Waterfront Campus would see a rise in the HMO market east of the river. With UWTSD opening it’s new campus this coming September, it seems that there are investors out there who are striking early to ensure that their HMOs are ready for the 19/20 Student House Hunting season.
While it’s still too early to say for sure whether St Thomas and Port Tennant will become investment hotspots for student property – especially given that there’s not much for students to do over that way yet – the early signs seem to be that investors are beginning to focus their minds away from Uplands and Castle while confusion of Article 4 remains.