Homeowners planning on renovating their properties with a view to extending them, whether that’s with a conservatory, orangery or something else, will no doubt be pleased to hear that in some circumstances they will now be able to do so without the need to sort out full planning permission.
They will now be allowed to erect single-storey rear extensions of up to six metres for terraced or semi-detached properties or eight metres for detached homes under the rules, which were originally introduced back in 2013 and which have now been made permanent.
The package of reforms also includes the axing of restrictive planning rules to make sure that business owners are able to respond quickly to the way the high street is changing and evolving.
Under the previously temporary regulations, more than 110,000 extensions have been completed since 2014 and now even more families will be able to ensure that their homes suit them and their particular requirements.
It will help to make it easier for people to build outwards, instead of having to go through the process of moving home – which, as we all know, can be an especially stressful endeavour.
“These measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape. By making this permitted development right permanent, it will mean families can grow without being forced to move.
“This is part of a package of reforms to build more, better, faster and make the housing market work – and sits alongside our drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s,” housing minister Kit Malthouse said.
As for businesses, permitted development rights will also allow them greater flexibility to reflect the changing trends in consumer spending.
They’ll be able to change to office space without having to have full planning permission in place, intended to bring skilled professionals and their disposable income to the high street while helping support local traders by increasing footfall.
It builds upon changes to the law that allows businesses to change the use of buildings from takeaways to homes without having to sort out full planning applications. The reforms will also allow for the temporary change of use from shops, offices and betting shops to community-focused spaces like libraries or public halls.
Jake Berry, high streets minister, said: “This fantastic news joins our £675 million Future High Streets Fund and our High Streets Task Force in ensuring our country’s high streets are fit to thrive not just now, but in the years to come.
“Giving greater certainty to property owners and the wider industry, it will also help businesses adjust to the changing needs of the consumer.”
Of course, you will still need to be relatively familiar with the processes and procedures of planning permission when doing work at home, if only just to make sure that you’re not contravening any legalities that could ultimately mean the changes you make may have to be undone.
You’ll probably need permission if you want to build something new, change the use of your building or make a major change, such as an extension. As a first step, always get in touch with your local council or local planning authority to find out if you will indeed need permission.
The good news is that you can apply online, which will take some of the hassle out of the process. In fact, the majority of planning and building control applications are now submitted online and you can apply to every England local authority via the Planning Portal.
Always consider whether your development will need to have planning permission, building regulations approval or both. They’re separate issues and will have to be applied for individually and you’ll need to set up a separate account for each on the Planning Portal website.
As of September 2018, a service charge is required for submitting applications online that attract a planning fee.
If you do need to have planning permission in place for a project and you do the work without securing it, you may find yourself served an enforcement notice that orders you to undo all the hard work you’ve done. Note that while it’s illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, you can appeal against it.
Once you’ve applied, your local planning authority will decide whether or not to grant permission for your project, based on the development plan you submitted.
It will consider factors such as landscaping requirements, what the development is to be used for, the infrastructure available (such as roads and water supply), the size, number, siting and external appearance of buildings, and how your development would affect the surrounding area.
For most projects, applications are decided upon within eight weeks. If your project is particularly large or complex, it can take up to 13 weeks. If the decision takes longer than that, bear in mind that you can appeal.
Should your application be refused, try your best to come to an agreement with your local planning authority by making a few changes to your project. You are able to appeal if the authority refuses your application, if permission is granted but with conditions you object to, if it refuses to approve something you were told to build by your authority as part of a previous application, and so on.
Don’t forget about building regulations approval
Before buildings can be constructed or changed in certain ways, you’ll also need to check if you need building regulations approval. If you use a company registered with a competent person scheme, you will not need to sort this out yourself as they can do it on your behalf.
Alteration projects such as installing bathrooms that involve plumbing, replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics, replacing windows and doors, installing fixed air-conditioning systems and changing electrics near the bath or shower may need building regulations approval.
Also check that you don’t need it for replacing roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs, adding extra radiators to heating systems or installing or replacing heating systems. If you can’t decide whether or not you need it, always check with a building control body.
If the person carrying out the work doesn’t comply with building regulations they could be prosecuted and fined, and your local authority could force you to pay for any repairs that are required on faulty work.
A key point to remember is that without approval in place you won’t have the certificates of compliance you may potentially need when you want to sell your house.
Work that won’t need building regulations approval includes most repairs, replacements and maintenance work, new power and lighting points, changes to existing circuits and like-for-like replacements of baths, toilets, sinks and basins.
Even if you don’t have to have formal approval in place, you will still need to make sure the work adheres to safety and energy efficiency standards.
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