Consultation proposals to extend permitted development rights for homeowners and businesses

Steeles Law Head of Planning & Environment David Merson looks at the Coalition’s proposals to amend the permitted development regime to extend development rights for homeowners and businesses without having to apply for planning permission.

As previously reported the Coalition is planning to make a number of changes to the planning regime in order to reduce bureaucracy, speed up the process, reduce cost and contribute to the drive towards growth as part of its concerted economic stimulation package.

As part of that process, proposed changes to the permitted development regime were announced but until now we had not seen the detail of the proposals. That is no longer the case with the publication (12th November 2012) of the associated consultation document.

The gist of the proposed changes is set out below.

Residential

The proposal is that in non-protected areas (see below) the current position that single-storey rear extensions with a depth beyond the rear wall of 4m for a detached house, and 3m for any other type of house, are permitted subject to various limitations should be increased to 8m for a detached house, and 6m for any other type of house. This would also cover conservatories at the rear of properties.

No changes are proposed for flats and extensions of more than one storey and all other current limitations and conditions remain the same e.g.:

  • Development can only cover up to 50% of the curtilage of the house;
  • Single-storey extensions must not exceed 4m in height;
  • Extensions with eaves higher than 3m must not be within 2m of the boundary; 
  • Building regulations, Party Wall Act requirements and the ‘right to light’ continue to apply; and 
  • NPPF policies on ‘garden-grabbing’ remain in force

These proposals do not permit separate outbuildings for residential accommodation (beds in sheds), or for the creation of separate residential units although the Coalition recognises that garages conversions can provide a valuable source of extra space, and wherever possible, families should be able to adapt them to meet their changing needs.

Retail

The proposal is that for shops and financial / professional services establishments outside of protected areas (see below), the current limits permitting extensions by up to 50m², provided that this does not increase the gross floor space of the original building by more than 25%, should be raised to 100m² and 50% respectively including the right to build up to the boundary of the premises, except where the boundary is with a residential property, when the requirement to leave a 2m gap along the boundary would remain.

Other limitations and conditions would remain the same, and existing protections under other regimes will continue to apply e.g.:

  • The height of the building as extended must not exceed 4m; or
  • The development must not consist of changes to a shop front, or extensions beyond a shop front.

Offices

The proposal is that for offices outside of protected areas (see below), the current limit on extensions of up to 50m², provided that this does not increase the gross floor space of the original building by more than 25%, should be raised to 100m² and 50% respectively.

Other limitations and conditions would remain the same, and protections under other regimes will continue to apply e.g.:

  • Buildings within 10m of the boundary must not be more than 5m high;
  • In other cases the extension cannot exceed the height of the existing building; and
  • New extensions must not be within 5m of the boundary.

Industrial

At present, new industrial buildings or warehouses which are up to 100m² in size can be built within the curtilage of an existing industrial building or warehouse in a non-protected area, provided that this does not increase the gross floor space of the original building by more than 25%.

The proposal is that outside of protected areas (see below), these limits should be raised to 200m² and 50% respectively.

The other current limitations and conditions would remain the same, and existing protections under other regimes will continue to apply e.g.:

  • Buildings within 10m of the boundary must not be more than 5m high;
  • There must be no building within 5m of the boundary; and
  • There must be no reduction in the space available for parking or turning of vehicles.

Time limit

These proposed changes should be in place for a period of three years, starting from the date at which the secondary legislation implementing these changes comes into force.

It is also proposed that developments will have to be completed by the end of the three-year period.

There will be a notification requirement and homeowners and businesses wishing to exercise their rights under these changes will be required to notify the local planning authority on completion of the development. Where this notification is not received by the end of the three-year period, the development will not count as permitted development, and could be subject to enforcement action.

Protected areas

The proposed changes will not apply to protected areas or ‘article 1(5) land’ which are in essence National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation areas, World Heritage Sites and the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. Similar protection will be retained for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Telecommunications

At present, Part 24 of the General Permitted Development Order provides that fixed broadband apparatus such as cabinets, telegraph poles, and overhead lines have permitted development rights subject to a prior approval process on ‘article 1(5) land’. This allows local planning authorities to consider the siting and appearance of communications apparatus before development commences.

The proposal is to remove this prior approval requirement as it applies to article 1(5) land for a period of five years provided that all works are completed by the end of that period although the prior approval requirement will, for obvious reasons, continue to apply in respect of SSSIs.

Comment

While the vast majority of the proposals are likely to be welcomed, at least by those looking to implement development proposals that might previously have required planning permission but no longer do so, one cannot help wondering what the proposals are going to do for neighbourly relations where the opportunity to comment on a proposal in advance of its implementation is no longer available. It is also anticipated that the telecommunications proposal is going to give rise to considerable comment and vigorous debate given the various conflicting interest groups.

Consultation

The current consultation began on 12th November and runs for a six week period closing on the 24th December 2012.

Thereafter, there will no doubt be a period of reflection on the consultation responses before the final proposal is published in the form of a Statutory Instrument amending the General Permitted Development Order.

That being the case, it is advisable to await publication thereof before embarking on any such development proposal.

Full details of the proposals and consultation can be found here.

If you require further information or advice on any issues raised in this article or any other planning & environmental matter please contact David Merson on 020 7421 1720 or dmerson@steeleslaw.co.uk.

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