It has been hot news recently, as the Government has proposed a change in planning laws, meaning you can extend your house by between 20ft and 26ft without planning permission. This proposal seems to be splitting the opinions of the public, businesses, councils and fellow politicians.
The main concerns seem to be the potential for green space in gardens to disappear and that these extensions will be overshadowing the neighbours gardens.
The facts so far
-Homeowners do not need planning permission for a single storey extension to your home up to 10ft long on a terraced or semi-detached house and 13ft on a detached house; this includes conservatories, orangeries, garage and loft conversions.
-Homeowners still need to receive the local council’s approval from the building control officer. They can only critique the safety of the building, not the design.
-As a neighbour there isn’t a lot you can do unless it encroaches onto your property.
I spoke to our Technical Planning manager last week about these changes and how they will affect his team in the office. He said that these changes would mean they would have to arrange less planning, making their jobs a little easier. It would also mean your new conservatory will gain permission to be built quicker, therefore reducing the entire process time. This is good news for all of you who want to extend and add value to your home, but considerations to your home, neighbours and garden should still be taken.
Sutton council believes this proposition is a “recipe for disaster”, whilst Geoffrey Samuel, Richmond councils deputy Tory leader said, “People with smaller gardens could suddenly find they are overlooked and next door’s garden is covered in concrete.” He continued to say “People value their green open space” and by losing this it “affects their quality of life”, which appears to be an opinion sympathised by many others. The Royal Institute of British Architects carried out a poll on YouGov and discovered 54 of those who voted believe that the quality of design in their neighbourhood would deteriorate should the laws change. The Government hopes the proposed change will help small businesses and homes expand and meet their aspirations.
We gathered asked a few people from within the building industry to share with us their opinion on this proposal; here is what they had to say.
localtraders.com – “I feel that the relaxed planning permission proposals revealed by the government early last month have their good and bad points. For many homeowners the current planning permission restraints put people off improving their homes and investing in the economy via home extensions. But on the other hand, the new proposals may leave the door open for rogue traders looking to take advantage of the loophole and could leave homeowners out of pocket correcting work that has been carried out to a poor standard. As a ambassador for trusted tradesmen, I feel that we do need some level of control over the quality of extensions being erected no matter what their size.”
Trevor Saxby from TBS Building Supplies – “Any relaxation of the planning laws that encourages a kick start to the construction industry would be welcomed by merchants.
Home owners need to note the specification that extensions must ‘preserve the visual amenity’ and use the same or similar materials as the original structure. It is not impossible that planners visiting at a later date might object to an extension that hasn’t taken this into account. Builders Merchants offering a brick matching service will be important here.
The Local Government Association claims there are thousands of properties which have already received planning permission under the old system, where the work has still not been carried out. Customers must remain aware of cash flow and the availability of building contractors.
There is an ethical aspect which we shouldn’t forget. Many merchants supply landlords of hostels or student accommodation. We would have a few scruples about helping to create larger premises which will then be overcrowded by a few unscrupulous landlords.”
Our final comment is from tradeskills4u.co.uk – “We welcome any change that makes it easier for everyday folk to improve their homes. The proposed changes seem to make perfect sense and are a great way of cutting down red tape. It also means for the many electricians out there we will see an increase in demand for their services in these new extensions. In fact it is hard to see who would lose out with these proposed changes apart from the planning officers themselves. The majority of electricians we train are focussed on installing in domestic projects so this change will be great for them.”
When building an extension you should always consider your surroundings, the type of materials used, the aesthetics, the period of your home and should you be living in a terrace or semi-detached house, your neighbours. Be it a conservatory, an orangery or a panoramic extension, always ensure that you are doing it the correct way and that you have got all of the approvals; alternatively you could order from Anglian and let us do all of the hard work for you.