Homeowners’ rights to build extensions and conservatories will be firmly in the spotlight during a debate at the House of Commons this Friday, 16th January.
Hosted by Mark Pawsey MP, the debate will centre on the costs and restrictions that are being imposed by water companies, preventing some homeowners from extending their properties.
In the past it was the responsibility of private households to maintain the sewage pipes on their land but from 1st October 2011 in England and Wales the responsibility for the majority of sewers was transferred to the water companies. As a consequence, water companies are forcing homeowners to seek their agreement when constructing conservatories or extensions either over a sewer or within three metres of a sewer.
While the initial idea was to simplify the process, some homeowners have found that many of the water companies are taking an excessive amount of time to respond and in some cases are charging two or three different administrative fees for granting permission. Quite often these fees can run into thousands of pounds. As a result this legislation is causing problems and delays for homeowners, making the whole process both challenging and costly.
This debate has come about following extensive pressure by Anglian Home Improvements, one of the biggest submitters of planning applications in the UK, as well as its industry body GGF (Glass and Glazing Federation). They are petitioning for water companies in England and Wales to adopt an industrywide code of conduct that outlines best practice for installing conservatories or extensions in cases where building work may be close to a sewer, in order to provide clarity for consumers who wish to extend their homes.
Mark Pawsey, Member of Parliament for Rugby & Bulkington, said, “I was pleased to be able to secure the debate regarding issues being faced by homeowners looking to improve their properties due to the adoption of private sewers by the water authorities.
“I fully support the changes in legislation in 2011 brought about by the very hard work of people including my constituent Pam Brockway of Woodlands Residents Association in Rugby but I think it only fair that set procedures, costs and guidelines are put in place to ensure that the water authorities act in a uniform manner when homeowners make applications to them to build near to recently adopted sewers.” Shaun McAllister, Conservatories Operations Director at Anglian Home Improvements, said, “Anglian welcomes the aim of the 2011 legislation. However, there are unintended consequences that restrict and even prevent the opportunity for some homeowners to extend their property. In some cases, homeowners have obtained full planning permission for their extension or conservatory but are still not be able to extend and improve their home due to the restrictions and costs being imposed by water companies.
“The costs being imposed by water companies for securing their approval can be significant – we have evidence of water companies charging anywhere from £300 to several thousand pounds for something that is not actually legally required. In addition, gaining approval can be extremely time-consuming and the process for application varies for each water company.
“Along with GGF, Anglian Home Improvements is calling for the development of a process that minimises costs and creates a consistent approach throughout the UK, similar to that of Planning Permission. We’re delighted that Mark Pawsey MP will be raising this important issue in the House of Commons.”
For media enquiries, please contact Melanie McDonald at Anglian Home Improvements on 01603 405911 or email [email protected]