The government wants to speed up the extension approval process to allow homeowners to make more space for growing families from September.
Homeowners will be able to add two storeys to their properties without having to go through the normal planning approval process if a new government law comes into effect as planned.
The new law, which has been laid before Parliament and is due to come into effect in September, will offer homeowners a fast-track approval system to help them accommodate growing families.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It will mean that families can add up to two storeys to their home, providing much-needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows.”
Planning permission is currently required to extend a property above a certain height, and it can take several months to obtain.
The idea behind the new law is to cut delays caused by planning permission approval paperwork from an average of 16 weeks to just eight weeks.
The extensions can either be part of the main home or become a self-contained property, like a granny annexe.
Homeowners will, however, still be required to carefully consider the impact building upwards will have on their neighbours and the external appearance of their property under the new system.
Why is this happening?
The move is part of an overhaul of the UK’s seven-decade old planning system to make it easier for people to change their homes to accommodate growing families.
The new law will also enable retail and commercial premises to be converted into housing, and unused buildings to be demolished and rebuilt as homes without requiring full planning permission.
It is part of the government’s plan to deliver more homes and revitalise town centres, while reducing the pressure to build on greenfield sites.
It is also an opportunity for turning commercial premises, which may no longer be in use thanks to the shift in working culture caused by coronavirus, into much-needed residential housing.
Who does it affect?
The move is great news for homeowners as it makes it easier for them to extend their current property to accommodate a growing family without having to move.
Many people have been put off moving up the property ladder in recent years due to a combination of a shortage of properties for sale and the high cost of moving, which averages more than £12,000 once stamp duty, solicitors’ and estate agents’ fees and moving costs are factored in, according to Lloyds Bank.
The new simplified planning permission system will give them more certainty that they will be able to modify their existing property if they require more space.
The fact that they are allowed to create self-contained units in the additional space may also lead to elderly parents moving in with their children, which could release under-occupied family homes onto the market.
What’s the background?
The new law adds to a number of other building projects that homeowners are already allowed to undertake without needing planning permission.
People can add a single storey extension to their property as long as it does not extend more than 3 metres from the original house for semi-detached and terraced homes and 4 metres for detached ones, and it does not take up more than 50% of the original space around the property.
Loft conversions are also allowed without the need for planning permission as long as they are no larger than 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached properties and 40 cubic metres for terraced homes.
These changes, referred to as “permitted development rights”, have been in the pipeline for some time, with Jenrick having alluded to plans to allow residential blocks of flats to be extended by up to two storeys without full planning permission in the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s Planning for the Future document in March.
Top three takeaways
Homeowners are set to be allowed to add up to two storeys to their property without having to go through the full planning permission process
Under a new law, which is due to come into effect in September, they will have a fast-track approval system
They will still be required to carefully consider the impact building upwards will have on their neighbours and the external appearance of their property