Property Wisdom – Action Plan

Homeowners planning to add space to their property will have less red tape to negotiate now that planning regulations covering extensions and loft conversions have been relaxed, says property expert Laura Henderson.


Recent proposals announced by government confirm proposals to relax planning rules and allow homeowners to build large extensions and conservatories without planning permission. But what respite is this actually expected to bring individual homeowners?


Under the three-year scheme aimed at boosting economic growth, householders will be able to build extensions up to 8m long in their gardens without requiring approval.


The aim is to make it easier for families to undertake home improvements to cater for a growing family, as well as to generate new business for small traders and local construction companies.


At present, homeowners can build a small single-storey rear extension or conservatory of up to three metres from a semi-detached property or four metres from a detached home without the need for planning consent. For all other work, consent is required, and this process can drag on for several months.


Under the changes to current rules in England, homeowners should be able to carry out a single-storey extension to their property of up to 8m from the rear wall without permission.


This could significantly speed up applications currently in the planning process, especially as neighbours will have little right to object.


Don’t forget however, that if you are making changes to your home you are obliged to tell your home insurance provider about anything which may increase the value of the property as this could affect your policy.

Expansion Essentials

Plan Ahead

It isn’t necessary to have an application ‘in the system’ before having discussions with planners – they won’t charge for preliminary meetings to discuss what you want to do, so take full advantage. You can also save yourself time and hassle by making a preliminary on online enquiry before submitting your full proposal with detailed drawings. This will allow you to gauge a council’s reaction to your proposal before you take it any further.

Be Clear

Planning permission rules are open to interpretation. Unlike building regulations, planning regulations differ from one area of the country to the next and the scope for inconsistencies between planners – even within one authority – can be huge. The onus is therefore on you and how well you can sell your self-build, renovation or extension project in relation to your particular authority’s development plan. A well-crafted design brief doused with ‘planning-speak’ from your architect, is worth its weight in gold and will have considerably more impact than your paint by numbers version, particularly if you need to explain away any design deviations.

Brief Ahead

Get your neighbours and parish council on side prior to making your application and accommodating any specific concerns they have into your design. It could mean the difference between a delegated approval and a planning committee refusal.



Laura Henderson is a property journalist, author and investment experts. Editor of Abode2 magazine, her latest book Tricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property Wisdom is out now.

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