Planning to extend? Know your rights

An introduction to the new permitted development rights for homeowners…

Since 30 May 2013 the permitted development rights for householders changed significantly. As part of its drive to kick start the economy the Government has introduced changes to permitted development rights to encourage homeowners to extend and alter their properties without having to obtain planning permission which can be a costly and time consuming process.

The changes are only temporary and will revert back to pre-May 2013 levels on 30 May 2016 so homeowners need to take advantage now.

Until 30 May 2016 homeowners may extend their properties beyond the rear wall of the original dwelling by up to 8 metres in the case of a detached dwelling and 6 metres in the case of any other type of dwelling. Extensions must be single storey and not exceed 4 metres in height. Under the old rules detached dwellings could be extended at the rear by up to 4 metres in depth and other dwellings up to 3 metres.

The remaining criteria relating to householder extensions still apply and homeowners would be wise to familiarise themselves with the 2008 permitted development rights prior to commencing work.

There are a number of conditions attached to the 2013 rules and the developer (usually the homeowner) is required to notify the local authority of the proposed extension before commencing work. The local authority will then notify neighbours of the proposal who will still have an opportunity to object. If an objection is received the prior approval of the local authority is still required to the extension and the 2013 rules set out what the local authority will taken into account when considering whether to grant approval.

What else should homeowners take into account when deciding to extend their property?
– The permitted development rules refer to extensions beyond the rear wall of the original dwelling. This is not always easy to determine, especially where a property has an irregular shape. The Government has produced technical guidance on the definitions of a rear extension to help homeowners.
– Just because an extension is exempt from the need to make a formal planning application it is likely that building regulation approval will be required. Checks should be made with the local authority’s building control department prior to commencing work.
– Neighbours may have the right to light and air over the property and a sizeable extension may block this. In addition, there may be a restrictive covenant on the title to the property which prevents extensions or alterations to a property without the consent of someone (other than the local authority). Checks should be made with a legal advisor as to the implications of extending the property and whether any other consents are needed.
– If a neighbour has a right of way over the property the extension must not block it unless a formal agreement has been reached to vary the right of way. Again, a legal advisor can assist. Consideration should also be given to whether the extension will be built over a public sewer, in which case a ‘build over agreement’ may be needed.

If a homeowner is unsure whether his proposed extension constitutes permitted development he can apply to the local authority for a Lawful Development Certificate which is a formal determination that the works are permitted. A fee is payable but is restricted to half the normal fee payable for a planning application.

For planning related queries please contact Julie Barrow at Fraser Dawbarns LLP.

by Julie Barrow from the Wisbech office