An Important Change to the Legislation governing Building Extensions
Homeowners in England can now build larger extensions without the need for planning permission. Mark Dawes, Managing Director of CAD Architects, explains the details.
What has been announced?
On 25th May 2019, the Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse, made a surprise announcement. He said that a temporary measure put in place in 2013, which allowed homeowners the right to build larger home extensions without applying for planning permission, would now be made permanent.
What does that mean for homeowners in England?
If you have a detached house, it means you can now build a single-storey extension to the rear of your property of up to 8 metres without the need for planning permission. For semi-detached or terraced houses, the maximum is 6 metres.
Why has the Government taken this step?
It is part of their response to what the media have termed “the UK housing crisis.” Development is not keeping pace with population growth and consequently there is a shortage of new housing. This move is part of a package of measures by which the Government intends to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
By reducing red tape, they hope more families will opt to expand their existing home rather than incur the expense of moving. Since the temporary rules were put in place six years ago, over 110,000 new extensions have been built. So it has definitely had an effect.
Does everyone in the industry support this change?
Not everyone. Many local councils are very nervous about the potential loss of control and the effect that a large number of new building extensions could have on local communities. The Local Government Association was opposed to making these rights permanent unless there was a full independent review of the impact of the temporary measures.
The second group unhappy with the change is estate agents. If there are fewer house moves, and therefore fewer transactions for them to manage, then this will have a detrimental effect on the overall size of their market.
Does this change mean that neighbours have no say over extensions that are constructed nearby?
Actually, they do have a say. This is where the new rules get a little vague. Neighbours will still be consulted by their local council and will still have the opportunity to raise objections to building extensions. But exactly how this procedure will work in practice remains to be seen.
Overall, what would you say to homeowners who are now considering building an extension?
I would say three things.
First, this is very good news. You now have the permanent right to extend your home within the legislated dimensions without undergoing a planning process which could have been time-consuming, costly, and may have resulted in the rejection of your plans.
Secondly, to make the most of the additional space in your home, I would always recommend the services of a specialist in residential architecture like CAD Architects. There is a real skill in designing the new space so it can adapt to your future requirements, rather than just meeting the immediate need for “more room.” Also, a good residential architect can design a building extension with real character, one that complements the look of the existing building. So while hiring an architect is not cheap, it can pay huge dividends in terms of your future enjoyment of your home and its long-term market value.
Thirdly, although you don’t have to apply for planning approval, this does not mean you are now free to build whatever you want! To avoid any objections which may interfere with your plans, you should continue to ensure that your extension reflects the guidelines of the planning regime in your area. Again, a residential architect will be able to advise you on this.