Richmond homeowners making most of relaxation in planning rules for extensions
17th July 2014
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The window of opportunity for homeowners in the UK to carry out larger extensions without requiring planning permission until 2016 has created an increase in building projects throughout the borough.

It’s all down to the 2013 General Permitted Development Order. The  temporary relaxation of planning rules was devised to make it easier to have building works done and boost the general economy.

People wanting to extend their homes have welcomed the changes, but there’s plenty of confusion around what’s allowed and even many builders and architects are far from clear on the new rules, many of which which conflict with previous regulations which are still in force.

So we asked local expert Stephen Green of architects Holland and Green  to shed some light on how the rules have changed and what’s allowed.

What’s changed?

Until 2008 there was a volume connection between extensions and loft conversions, but that’s not the case anymore. In terms of planning law the rules were further changed in 2013, which means that until 30th May 2016 people have the opportunity to do extra large ground floor extensions.

How much can you now extend by?

The distance that you can now extend against the back of the property has increased to 6m for a terraced or semi-detached property and up to 8m for a detached property. There are a lots of caveats, such as the requirement to obtain neighbours consent and notify the local planning authority, but essentially this is a genuine relaxation of planning rules.

So why is it confusing?

For Permitted Development the rules were somewhat clearer to interpret. For example the volume increase limit of 50 cubic metres for loft extensions and the requirement for extensions to be set back at least 200mm from the eaves were easy to understand.

The new planning vocabulary includes terms like Junior, Small, Subservient and In Keeping which are less straightforward to define. Some Councils have actually used the new rules as a way of stopping people doing over-generous work in the loft.

Even now, we find official Planning Portal information being out of date, so it’s hardly surprising there’s a lot of confusion around what’s actually allowed.

What about Party Walls?

The legislation hasn’t changed. If you’re digging a foundation within 3m of your neighbour you need to comply with the Party Wall etc Act 1996. To sum it up in two words, I would say it’s to “be neighbourly”. You need to ensure that at the end of whatever you’re doing your neighbour is in no worse state than when you started.

How can you help?

At Holland & Green are fully in touch with all the changes. We are in a position to give a definitive and comprehensive answer to one of the most common questions from homeowners planning a property extension - ‘what can we do?’.

We make sure people understand what they have to do to be fully compliant and we elegantly escort them through the process, from design and planning through to building your dream kitchen extension or loft conversion.

About the Author

Stephen G

Member since: 12th October 2011

Stephen Green heads up Holland and Green, architects based in Richmond upon Thames. We offer a full complement of services to both residential and commercial clients in London, Surrey and points beyond.

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