Rodić Davidson Architects

Permitted Development: An analysis of the changes announced today


The government today announced a raft of changes to the planning laws with the intention of stimulating the construction industry. We are still trying to digest the impact of a number of these planning reforms – particularly relevant to many of our schemes and clients will be the changes to the requirement to provide affordable housing on larger schemes. We shall write a news article about this after the government has released the detail and the impact becomes clearer.

We have had chance to consider the widely publicised changes to the domestic planning rules. The changes announced are, in effect, changes to the existing Permitted Development rules. Permitted Development is a part of the Town and Country Planning Act that allows certain limited development to take place without the need to obtain Planning Consent. Permitted Development rights are different in ‘designated areas’ – Conservation Areas, National Parks etc and they can be removed altogether by planning condition or by way of an ‘Artcile 4 Direction’ applied to a property (or area) by the Local Authority. Additionally Listed Buildings do not enjoy Permitted Development rights.

What currently counts as Permitted Development?

The rules are complex and vary if a property is inside a Conservation Architecture Area. Broadly speak, outside of a conservation area, the main constraints are:

1. The extension when combined with any other pre-existing extension or outbuilding on the site, must not exceed 50% of the total area of the area around the house as it stood on 1st July 1948 (or when it was built, if later than this date).

2. Detached House: Extension to the rear of 4m is allowable under Permitted Development with this reducing to 3m in the case of a semi-detached house or a terrace.

3. Materials to ‘match existing’

There are many other rules relating to heights adjacent to boundaries, building infront of a highway etc

What are the changes announced today?

The government wants to relax the Permitted Development rules – it has indicated that this may be a temporary relaxation – but a timeframe has not been stated. A consultation document is expected within a week or so which will outline further detail.

The headline changes that has been announced is that the depth of the extension will double – i.e. the current 4m allowance for a detached house will become 8m and the 3m allowance for a semi-detached house or terrace will become 6m.

No comment has been made on the other aspects of Permitted Development constraints – such as loft conversions, proximity to boundaries, heights adjacent to boundaries and materials. In the absence of comment on these items, we would expect that they will remain unchanged when the Consultation Document is issued.

When will the new rules apply?

The Government is putting the proposals to a short 1-month public consultation with a view to changes the rules by the end of the year.

What is your opinion?

Thank you for asking. We think the change will have negligible effect for our clients or the areas in which we operate. The majority of prime central London properties lie within conservation areas (RBKC has 35 Conservation areas alone, covering over 70% of the land area of the Borough). The changes to the rules are likely to exclude conservation areas. With regard to the rest of the country, we think that it is far from certain that the ‘perceived bureaucracy’ of having to make a Planning Application (cost: £150 / Time: 8 weeks) actually causes a fundamental impediment to a home-owner from extending their home. Whether or not home owners seek to make the significant investment required to extend their homes must be dictated far more by economics and confidence. An additional important point is that the Planning system, particularly for domestic projects, serves to be a reasonably effective arbiter between neighbours. People never welcome developments by their immediate neighbours – the planning system serves to mediate and the new rules will almost certainly cause an increase in neighbour disputes.




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