New Permitted Development
Potential additional two new floors on some residential and commercial properties
As of 31st August 2020, a new set of development rights will come into effect (but will only apply to properties located in England). This will be the second tranche of a range of permitted vertical extensions to certain buildings, which will no longer require a full Planning Application. Phase 1 was to allow additional homes to be built as upwards extensions on existing blocks of flats.
Instead of the traditional Planning Application process, a light-touch Local Planning Authority Approval process will be applied for extensions that are covered by this legislation. This is intended to bring benefits to both sides: cutting back on red tape and cost for Planning Authorities; simplifying the process, and giving greater levels of assurance to developers and owners much earlier on.
Wider Government Policy reasons behind this change
This amendment’s easing of red tape will benefit property developers, as well as property owners, to create (much needed) new homes, using existing properties. It could help address the current lack of affordable housing, as well as providing a boost to the UK’s economy, in the post-Covid climate.
In addition to these benefits to business, the legislation states that this new right is also intended to reduce the need to build on green belt land. This is somewhat backed up by the fact that properties in areas of outstanding natural beauty and Conservation areas are excluded from the right.
The four main developments included in this legislation are:
– extending existing residences for growing families/families wishing to care for elderly relatives;
– adding new homes to the top of existing residences;
– adding new homes to the top of commercial and mixed-use premises, which don’t require Planning Permission to change their designated usage to residential.
– building new homes (creating new storeys on free standing blocks)
Whilst the Explanatory Memorandum available to download, online (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/755/pdfs/uksiem_20200755_en.pdf), which takes you through the full details of these changes, we’ve compiled the following crib-sheet for those of you who want to look over the salient facts in one place, rather than going to the trouble of picking over the repetitive and wordy legalese of a Government document.
– Maximum height for houses extending upwards
There is an overall building height restriction of 18 metres, for houses extended under this legislation.
– How many storeys can I extend upwards by?
Note: whether a house is detached, semi-detached or terraced, the following applies:
If the property you wish to develop is a house which has two storeys above ground level (in other words, it’s got 3 floors, excluding any underground levels), then a maximum of 2 additional storeys could be built above the existing top storey.
If your property is a house with one storey above ground level (as above, 2 floors, excluding basement), then you’d only be able to build one new storey on top of your house.
– My house is 2 floors (including the ground floor), and I also have a loft conversion. Does this count as another floor, meaning that I can build another 2 storeys on top of my house?
The new legislation doesn’t consider loft conversions to be a storey in themselves. So unfortunately, you will only be able to build a maximum of 1 new storey on top of the house in question.
– Houses which are adjoined (semi-detached and terraced)
Whether you wish to extend your semi-detached or terraced abode upwards, or whether you’re concerned about your neighbour’s planned vertical extension, you’ll want to be aware of the following:
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1. You need to have approval from the Planning Department before you start work.
2. The approvals process is estimated as taking 8 weeks. If you don’t have a decision by then, you presumed assent will not be considered a basis for starting work. The good news is that if you haven’t received a decision after 8 weeks, you can lodge an appeal with the Secretary of State.
3. The Planning Department may have had their burden lessened by this legislation, but as part of their decision-making process around your plans, they need to considering a checklist of potential impacts your development could have, before approving it (see point 4), as well as carrying out a consultation process with interested parties – including building occupiers or neighbours adjoining the property in question, and a number of Public Bodies (some of whom have the right to deny permission, such as the Civil Aviation Authority and Defence Secretary)
4. Here’s a checklist of some of the key areas your local Planning Authority will be considering:
– transport and highways impacts
– contamination and flood risk
– the appearance of the extension (it has to resemble the existing building, externally at least)
– the design and architectural features of the existing house or building;
– any privacy, overshadowing, overlooking, impacting on the building itself and neighbouring building;
– natural light getting into all habitable rooms of the new homes;
– impact of noise from commercial premises on prospective new occupiers;
– impact on businesses/land use of new homes;
– impacts on air traffic/defence assets, and protected vistas in London.
– Properties built before 1 July 1948, and after 5th March 2018;
– Properties in Conservation Areas, National Parks and the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest;
– Listed buildings and scheduled monuments;
– Properties outside England
So there you have it – a whistle-stop tour of what this new piece of legislation intends, and what it allows. The fact that terraced and semi-detached houses have the restriction as to how much taller they can go than the next highest building in the block, could lead to interesting neighbourhood disputes, if early adopters’ restricted by lower house heights, subsequently take umbrage if their neighbours then have the ability to build higher in a single set of works. Or perhaps we’ll see whole streets band together and agreeing to get works done at the same time, so that no-one misses out. This is, of course, assuming that home-owners are solvent enough to consider any building works in the current climate.