Currently, Class C3 Dwelling Houses are defined as follows:

Use as a dwellinghouse (whether or not as a sole or main residence) by—

(a) a single person or by people to be regarded as forming a single household;

(b) not more than six residents living together as a single household where care is provided for residents; or

(c) not more than six residents living together as a single household where no care is provided to residents (other than a use within Class C4).

Within the  Communities and Local Government Circular 05/2010 there are additional comments which state:

C3(b) continues to make provision for supported housing schemes, such as those for people with disabilities or mental health problems.

It remains the case that in small residential care homes or nursing homes, staff and residents will probably not live as a single household and the use will therefore fall into the residential institutions class, regardless of the size of the home. Local planning authorities should include any resident care staff in their calculation of the number of people accommodated.

However, what this does not take into account is the more modern approach to small care homes whereby there are no resident staff and those living in the house are living as a single household.

The determination of C3(b) or C2 has further been confused by some recent case law such as North Devon DC v First Secretary of State [2003] EWHC 157 and Crawley BC v Secretary of State for Transport and the Regions [2004] EWHC 160.

This has left a situation whereby whether a small care home should be a C3(b) or a C2 is determined on the level of needs of the people who live there. Hence, a care home with 6 or less people could open under a class C3(b) but at some point an individual moves in who requires a level of care that a local planning officer (who has no training or experience in assessment of individuals with support needs) makes a determination whether this should now become a C2.

Also, this matter is determined differently by different planning authorities across the country. Indeed, it even varies within counties.

I believe that these planning classes definitions should be used to encourage integration of people with disabilities and mental health problems within the community and hence, allowing small care homes to be within “normal houses, in normal streets”. Not, as I have found that some communities prefer, to be able to challenge the planning in order to not have “those people” living next door to them.

Hence, I believe that this needs to be simplified so that any small care home with up to six people should be classed as C3(b) irrelevant of the level of care provided and that the only people to be included are those that actually live there (and not staff who provide support).

This means that it is not for planning officers with little or no experience of care to make determinations on whether an individual has the capability of living within a household. Also, it means that the planning requirements of a small care home are not a moving target.

Why is this idea important?

This idea is important because, currently, it is creating additional burdens on both small care homes who are already subject to a high level of regulation from CQC and on local planners attempting to decipher what is the actual legal position – all of which costs time and money, the vast majority of which on both sides coming from the public purse.

In addition, this would be a positive step towards the ongoing integration of vulnerable people within our communities whereby people in small care homes who are often still sidelined and not treated an citizens.

18 Replies to “Clarification of Planning Classes with regards to C3(b) and C2”

  1. I am currently involved in a project exactly as described above, where we wish to provide a supported living setup for 6 persons in a detached house, and due to pressure by neighbours, one of which happens to be a parish councillor, the planning officer is having to determine if the property will be classed as C2 or C4. Obviously they have no knowledge of health care etc. Where can I find more resources to help our case to have this property classed as an HMO?

    1. If it is supported housing for up to 6 people it would be a C3b not a HMO ifi am correct? If you can justify that the ‘residents’ are sharing the house as a single ‘household’ I.e sharing bills, meals, cleaning and shopping etc. I am currently setting up such a provision. Would be interested to discuss your ongoing problems/ solutions


      1. Hi Debbie, I am currently looking in to setting up supported housing for 4 adults with learning disabilities, but I am nor clear where to start from in terms of – do I need permission from neighbours, from local authority etc. My husband and I will be buying a detached property in a village setting.

        Kind regards

  2. Debbie,

    Sorry but I think your idea is totally insane, we have lived with a situation for 3 years were by we have 3 residence living in a 4 bedroom property each receiving individual 24/7 care on a shift basis. This means that we have a changeover at 6:45am and 3pm and again at just before 10pm. There are 5 cars which include 2 motorbility vehicles so this means there are minimum of 24 car movements a day. On top of this there are weekly meetings involving up to another 6 people visiting the property at the same time. Meaning that there are up to 11 vehicles parked with only practical space for 3 on the property. The road is a narrow cul de sac so this amount of cars create issues with noise, parking over other residence driveways, we also had an incidence of a gardener used by the property parking in a neighbours driveway because he had nowhere to park. The care staff are inconsiderate by making noise early mornings (5:10am) one morning putting wheelie bins out. We had to complain to environmental health about sanitary waste bags thrown on the pavement and splitting open, the list could go on but I do not want to bore you. As you will now see the impact of this class of property with up to 6 residence all receiving 24/7 care when in an unsuitable location can have a severe impact to local residence.

    With c3b, the planning officer has no enforcement rights over parking provision and impact the carers can have on a residential area. I personally think that the planning law should be clear with regards to the level of care which limits the amount residence at a specific property and that planning permission should be required in changing from c3 to c3b.
    There is no attempt to integrate with local residents and the care staff see the property as purely a place of employment.

    1. I have just read this and totally agree with you. What is the answer to all this? Have you found one? I like am in a similar situation, small care home C3(b with two residents for four years now. Yes 11 to13 cars, meetings, all you have stated. Nervous breakdown myself over one of the residents who screamed for over an hour until exhausted. Five times a day! I had 18 months with this until enviromentle health recorded it by machine and in writing. 357 screams in 40 mins up to 5 times a day. Yes noise abatement notice to be served, but they moved her before it was, avoiding publicity!
      I could go on but people who do not stand in our shoes have no right to preach to us who have to endure this. I believe this is so wrong as if I or you wanted to operate a business from our home we would have to apply for planning. A care home is a business! This is a convieniant loop hole for the government! This is not cost effective or bennificial for these people who quite frankly have no idea where they are living as they are so severely disabled.

  3. A totally insane idea.
    I live opposite this type of home and I am totally frustrated and constantly stressed due to the high levels of staff traffic and lack of parking available. No thought has gone into the negative impact on the local environment and what was once a wonderful place to live has now become unbearable, staff work through the night when local residents need to sleep and our lives will never be the same as they were prior to the implementation of this policy.

  4. Don’t waste your time leaving anything other than positive feedback because they seem to be censored and removed!!

  5. I do not believe that in residential settings local residents are having problems with Supported homes/care homes next to them. Yes issues probably do arise, but If neighboring households are disturbed in any way by disruptive behavior and nuisance they should speak to the home owners and local authorities. You will see that issues will quickly be sorted out. As any owner does not want to have a home that is disturbed and not managed appropriately as reputation will drop and the home will not last long.
    I honestly believe that the stigma of mental health and the lack of knowledge has a lot to do with this and there will always be people that just do not understand and do not want people with such illnesses living next to them due to there concerns, rather then actually being disturbed by the home.
    I wish people could just work together for the better and be supportive of individuals in difficult situation and give everyone an equal opportunity. One has to understand there are always staff present and in most cases very experienced care staff that have good knowledge and understanding in dealing with any difficult behaviours.
    Lets not put all care providers in the same category, I agree there may be care homes that are not functioning well but majority of services are well run and provide excellent care and do not disrupt the street or cause concerns to local residents. Lets not forget about the individuals these services are provided for, who have a right to leave in a residential setting and be part of the society.
    I strongly back the idea of staff NOT being included in the total number of residents in category C3b as they are not residents in the home they are carers. If it must be added, it should be amended to only persons that actually sleep at the premises at night.


  6. So which category should be used if there are 6 young people needing care and 1 carer living on site all the time?

  7. 6 or less residents living together as a one unit, receiving care falls under the C3(b) category, SIMPLE.

    If one of the 6 is a live-in carer, then there can be no more than 5 residents living in the dwellinghouse. If the carers are rotating staff, and they are not resident at the property, this still falls under C3(b) Class Use.

    C2 Use has nothing to do with the ‘type’ of care but the numbers of residents. If the 6 occupants were to increase to 7, that would therefore fall into the C2 Use as C3/C3(b) has 6 residents as a maximum.

    Furthermore C3(b) only demands a Certificate of Lawfulness, which means

    (a) there is no planning permission sought and
    (b) therefore there is no consultation with neighbours.
    C2 determines a full planning permission and neighbours will be advised prior to any development.

    May I also advise the level of care that Herve is talking about, ‘young people’ would fall into the age bracket of 11-18 and would be therefore regarded as a Children’s Home and would need to be registered under Ofsted. I do not think that a member of staff can live in, neither is 1 member of staff sufficient, as there needs to be hourly rotating shifts, with a minimum ratio of at least 1:2 and Ofsted will not register the facility on the current basis of 1:6. There would therefore be 7 people in one dwellinghouse equating to a C2 Use with a need for full planning permission to change the Use from a C3/C3(b) to a C2.

    Might I also add under Article 4 and some local authorities, permitted development rights mean that one can change from a C3 to a C3 without having to apply for any change of use be it Lawful Development or Planning Permission. I hope this helps.

  8. We have a group trying to set up in the village where I live, it is a small rural farming village, if you look at the mission statements of the group, the village does not tick any boxes, it’s going to have 4 young children living there that have been removed from their own families for their own safety. They will be going to a school that is about an hours drive away, the roads are horrendous in winter, never gritted as we’re not on a bus route, none of it makes sense, yet they’re saying they don’t need planning permission and as a community there’s nothing we can do to stop it. There’s absolutely nothing that the children will benefit from living here, it just doesn’t add up. The property has a very small garden, on the plans they’ve actually included the pony paddock from next doors property, which obviously doesn’t even belong to them. 4 children, 2 permanent carers and 10 support staff not to mention the psychologists and clinicians coming and going. It’s totally wrong.

  9. I recently rented a normal residential house out in Newham London for one year. This could be extended but its up to me.

    I have applied for an HMO additional licence for maximum 4 people. The tenant is a company who specialises in Autistic people, no doubt a contract with the NHS or someone. I have 3 men ( 45 to 55) and a carer that live there . Further 2 support carers/office/kitchen during the day.
    One neighbour has complained about noise when they first moved in. The council attended that day and spoke to the owners of the company but no feedback to me. Council are now looking into planning enforcement along the lines of a “Care Home” This is supported living schemes C3(b) I think and not sure atm what action I may face . Any suggestions/help appreciated.. Certainly no problems with out of hours activity and parking/meetings as some have said on here.
    They are just trying to let the 3 guys live in a normal environment and not a “Home” which is where they have been for 8 years.

  10. I began a day service for adults with LD in 2012 on a 33 acre farm. When planning permission was sought the local people in the Hamlet were not accepting, however the council appreciated the need for such an important and well run service.
    Only last year I applied for planning permission on our farm for a 12 bedroom respite facility, this time all the local parish supported us. Our guys and girls have Autism, Aspergers, Down\’s Syndrome etc they are lovely human beings that love the space a rural environment offers. They grow their own vegetables, learn how to cook and other skills which are much needed for them to move on into supported living.

  11. The question of whether a facility is C2 or C3c has big financial ramifications for providers of social care services and accommodation: a newly-built C2 unit is usually free of S106 social housing and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) taxes, whereas a C3c \”dwelling-house\” has to pay CIL at £150-350 per m2. S106 also means that flatted schemes of more than 5-10 units typically face losing 40-50% of the units to a housing association, with very little financial compensation. These taxes nearly always make new small units and flats financially unviable, hence why developers and care providers are forced to turn to house conversions instead.

    C3 units are also lumped in with the Local Plan assessment of housing supply, so are subject to all the planning risks and costs faced by a conventional builder or developer. Most councils are still very unsophisticated in creating planning policies for small care homes – just as they completely ignore young people\’s need for houseshares and HMOs – whereas a C2 scheme can be assessed more flexibly.

  12. I have been notified that a neighbouring bungalow is going to be used for supported accommodation. I have been trying to find out more information from my local planning department but they say they have had no request for a change of use and have not been helpful in signposting me to where I can find information. The company concerned have not informed the local residents about how many occupants they will have and what type of clients they will be supporting which I think is inconsiderate. Surely a business of this nature would need to be registered somewhere especially to safeguard the occupants. Any information about where to enquire next would be very welcome.

  13. We live next door to such a facility and they are great. Before that the house had single people having parties, drugs and lord above knows and the place was a tip! It is now tidy and presentable. They are totally responsible and we can knock on and speak to the staff if we have any issues. In fact one of our neighbours had a heart attack a few weeks ago and if it wasnt for the nurse she would have been dead!

  14. Hi I’m currently in the process of opening a supported living home for 4 autistic adults with personal care needs with 24 hour support provided by support staff.

    Would this come under C2 or hmo housing class as I’m finding it difficult to get a definitive answer and would appreciate any response

    Thanks in advance for any response

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