Big Tree Planning


New home extension rules to boost the economy…really?

The coalition’s announcement that rules on residential extensions are to be relaxed to ‘boost the economy’ and ‘revitalise the housing industry’ have been met with widespread concern and incredulity. Ministers have said that homeowners will soon be able to extend their properties by up to 8 metres (for detached dwellings) without the need for planning permission, doubling the current allowance.

How on earth will allowing homeowners to extend their houses by a whopping 8m have any impact on the housing industry? If the Government thought about this for any length of time they may realise that by allowing such massive additions without any form of planning control, homeowners will be able to massively increase the size of their property for a fraction of the cost of moving to a larger home, and that this could well further stagnate a housing market that is already teetering on the edge of collapse. Again.

And what effect will such massive additions have on neighbours throughout the country? Many believe the current rules, which allow 4m extensions for detached dwellings and 3m extensions for terraced or semi-detached properties, are too generous and that such extensions can often cause harm to the amenity of neighbouring residents. Doubling this allowance seems preposterous. Many modern detached houses built in recent years are barely 8m wide to start off with, and soon it will be possible to double their footprint without any form of planning control.

All-in-all the general consensus is that the new rules will wreak havoc for homeowners throughout the country. Indeed several local authorities have taken legal advice in an effort to stop the rule changes from taking place.

Like the revocation of Regional Spatial Strategies and their subsequent re-enactment, the decision to change the rules appears to have been made without much thought or understanding, or any consideration for the general home-owning public. The Government is still consulting on the rule changes, so let us all hope they realise the impact they would have and once again perform an impressive U-turn.

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