Last week the government announced its planning reforms which are aimed to help boost the construction sector. The new rules have ended the requirement to seek planning permission for single story read extensions on homes. These changes will positively affect your Permitted Development rights (PD rights) which are already in place to allow home owners to build small outbuildings (sheds), conservatories and small extensions without planning permission.
The new rules mean that extensions of up to a depth of 6 m from a terraced house and 8 m for a detached or semi-detached can be built without planning permission. Previously the limit was 3 m. A 6 m extension is about 20 feet, which means a room approximately 18 feet long and as wide as the current property can be added to a home. This is a very sizeable room.
Currently the housing market is still very slow and the cost of moving is still high. By the time you add up the conveyancer fees, estate agent fees, stamp duty and the cost of moving, just moving house can cost in excess of £25,000. In the current market you may be able to get a modest extension for that figure.
“For a Time Limited Period”
However, these changes are unlikely to be permanent. The final paragraph of the government announcement states;
“For a time limited period, slashing planning red tape, including sweeping away the rules and bureaucracy that prevent families and businesses from making improvements to their properties, helping tens of thousands of home owners and companies”.
The hope, it seems, is that home owners will start to act quickly to make changes to their properties before the changes to the planning process are reversed.
No Start Date Announced
Although these changes have hit the news headlines, a start date for these changes still has not been announced. At the moment the local councils still have no more information than has been published in the news so have been unable to provide any update. If you are looking to start the process to build a new extension today (10th Sep 2012) it is likely that the planning process will still take around 6 to 8 weeks to complete.
Faster Business Growth
The FSB have said that these changes can also help businesses to grow. Under the previous rules a business would usually have to wait for around 8 weeks to obtain planning permission to expand an office or property for commercial purposes. These changes mean that businesses will be able to quickly obtain vital extra space to operate in.
The Confederation of British Industry is in agreement, and they believe that “making planning cheaper, quicker and easier will unblock stalled housing developments and provide a fillip to business confidence.”
Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said that “We want to make it easier for families to undertake home improvements, such as building a new conservatory“.
Green Issues and Neighbour Disputes
However, there are also concerns that the change in planning rules may result in permanent destruction of green space, reduce the drainage on already built up flood plains and intrude on neighbours views and open space.
A The Telegraph headline from last week read “eyesore extensions and neighbourhood rows to soar after planning deregulation“. The Planning Officers’ Society fear that the changes will result in unsightly extensions being erected which would never have previously been approved.
Builders in Essex are certainly pleased with the changes and are hopeful that this may lead to a rise in new contracts over the next years. The change in the planning rules mean that it is more likely that people opt to remain in their current property and extend rather than attempt to brave the treacherous housing market.
However, some builders are still unsure when the changes come in to effect and the exact rules are. It is not something that they can afford to get wrong, so the local planning departments may soon be busy with meetings with local builders who are trying to understand the changes before taking on new building contracts.
More information on these changes can be found at Number10.co.uk, the official site for government press releases: http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/plans-to-boost-uk-housebuilding-jobs-and-the-economy/
The planning process in Essex (page accessed on 10/09/12): http://www.essex.gov.uk/Environment%20Planning/Planning/Minerals-Waste-Planning-Team/Planning-Applications/Planning-Process/Pages/The%20planning%20process.aspx