Dear Readers,

There has been a bit of a furore since David Cameron announced he intends to implement a ‘temporary’ relaxation in the planning rules. By far the most disturbing change for residential property owners is the easing of restrictions on domestic extensions.
Currently, a homeowner can build a ‘permitted development’ without seeking planning permission. Whilst this won’t change, what constitutes a permitted development will, especially when it comes to extensions. Briefly, detached single-storey extensions can be 4m long; semi-detached and terraced extensions are allowed up to 3m long. Under new rules, the allowable length of a permitted single-storey extension will double. Ostensibly, the rules on matching materials won’t change and you will still need to get planning permission if the exterior of the extension won’t match the home.
So what’s the uproar all about? There have been several complaints that these new rules will simply double the size of eye-sore extensions going up across London and damage our architectural heritage. In addition, David Cameron’s goals of getting Britain building again may not be met by this and other planning changes.
First, let me assure you that if your neighbour builds an extension that you feel violates the rules, you can notify your council and they will send an enforcement officer to look at the issue. In theory, only the size – not the required quality – of extensions will change. That said, most of us are well aware of the poor quality of some of the extensions that get through loophole of ‘permitted development’. The thought of doubling the size of those ‘carbuncles’ as TV property expert Martin Roberts calls them, is truly disturbing.
Finally, many experts question the effectiveness of the measures in stimulating jobs, new homes and growth in the property sector and the economy overall. Most experts agree that a much simpler way to encourage growth is to simple cut the VAT to 5 or 10 pc rather than loosening important regulations. I tend to agree with the experts.

John Bishop

Tel. 020 3301 7815
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