New temporary Permitted Development Rights for England – A blessing or a curse?

On 30th May 2013 the Government brought new temporary planning laws into force until 30th May 2016 to try and help boost the economy by making it easier for homeowners in England to build single storey extensions and conservatories. Under already existing planning laws, where a property’s permitted development rights have not been withdrawn by local authorities and remain intact, most semi-detached property owners can build a single storey extension or conservatory up to a maximum of 3 metres from the rear of their property (up to a maximum of 4 metres on detached homes) under permitted development.

Under the new temporary Permitted Development rules, homeowners can submit plans to their local authority for double sized single storey extensions or conservatories (i.e. with a maximum projection of 6 metres and 8 metres respectively). The local authority will in due course send these proposed development plans to all adjoining properties, giving them 21 days from the date of issue to submit representations and objections to their local planning authority. If an objection is received, the local planning officers may require the homeowner wanting to carry out the development to submit a full planning application. If this is the case, there is no guarantee planning will be approved, as will be dealt with under existing planning law.

Whilst some homeowners may get excited about building out further than is normally permitted, there is no guarantee that a) none of the adjoining owners will object, and/or b) their local planning authority may refuse permission on existing planning grounds. One vital thing to remember is that all â€Ŕnew rules” only relate to planning and not Building Regulations which are unchanged, so will need to be applied for in the case of a normal brick built extension or if homeowners are removing existing doors between the existing premises and extension (or conservatory), or if the new structure is over 30 square metres, or not primarily double glazed throughout etc.

The Town and County Planning, England, Statutory Instrument 2013 No.1101 â€Ŕallowing” general permitted development within a 3 year window came into force on 30th May 2013, and is only valid if the development is â€Ŕcompleted on or before 30th May 2016”. However, some local councils have sought and obtained an exception (i.e. many of whom are in London), so homeowners in these areas remain under existing restrictions with regards development of their properties. It is also worth noting that most new housing developments built in recent years have already had any Permitted Development rights withdrawn, so will probably require planning consent to be obtained before any extension to the property can be built (local planning authorities views and/or interpretations can vary).

Far from simplifying the process, the temporary extra permitted development could cause the whole English local authority planning system could go into melt down if thousands of homeowners decide to submit plans to local authorities, as they will not have the funding or resources to cope. In addition, the process could end up being even more protracted if after weeks of â€Ŕconsultation” the local planning officers decide a formal planning application is required.

For English homeowners wanting to add a modern double glazed conservatory or orangery to their home, without the hassle of the new consultation process or Building Regulatory Approval, the best way to do this is to ensure that the design does not require Building Regs and can be built under existing Permitted Development i.e. which usually allows around 3 metre to 4 metre projections (these limits can vary from one local authority another) from the rear of homes where Permitted Development rights remain intact. The other way homeowners can avoid a long drawn out process to build a larger conservatory or orangery the way they actually want it, is to employ a professional double glazing company to submit a full planning application on their behalf that stands every chance of being approved because its site and proportions have been designed in such a way as to comply with existing planning laws, and which should take into account the proximity of all adjoining properties.

The temporary Permitted Development rules are the same as the existing rules in one respect in that neither permit the commencement of any building until the statutory application process has been followed to the letter, which in the case of the temporary rules includes the submission of detailed plans to the local planning authority in question, along with all dimensions, the addresses of all adjoining properties and â€Ŕa written description of the proposed development”.

In summary, the temporary relaxation of Permitted Development rights may sound great in principle, but could all end in tears. By being prepared to limit any extension, conservatory or orangery to the pre-existing Permitted Development limits, one can avoid the uncertainty of planning, the unknown and lengthy new consultation process and get straight on with building the new structure – as long as Building Regulations are not required!

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