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Short Read :  Permitted Development. Upward extensions. The rules.

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The Government has introduced several new permitted development rights to allow upwards extensions to various existing properties including houses and commercial properties. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2020 will come into effect on 31 August 2020 and is the second phase of the Government’s permitted development rights relating to upward extensions.

So what’s allowed?

PD RIGHT TO EXTEND EXISTING HOMES

Class AA (enlargement of a dwelling-house by construction of additional storeys)

The new PD right allows existing houses which are detached, semi-detached or in a terrace to be extended upwards to provide additional living space by constructing additional storeys, subject to prior approval. The explanatory memorandum states that this right “could provide more space for growing families, or to accommodate elderly relatives, without having to move house” and that the measures will support economic recovery from COVID-19 by encouraging development.

The new Class AA (enlargement of a dwelling-house by construction of additional storeys) amends Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and allows

  • upwards extensions of up to two additional storeys on the topmost storey of a detached house, where the existing house consists of two storeys or more above ground level; or
  • one additional storey above ground level on a detached house of one storey.
  • In a terrace of 2 or more houses (which includes semi-detached houses) it also allows the construction of up to 2 additional storeys on the topmost storey of a house of 2 storeys or more, or
  • 1 additional storey on a house of 1 storey above ground level.
  • Existing accommodation in the basement or roof space of an existing house which includes a loft extension is not considered as a storey for the purposes of this PD right and the additional storeys must be built in the principal part of the house.
  • The right applies to houses built after 1 July 1948 and before 28 October 2018. Engineering operations necessary for the construction of the additional storeys are allowed.

 PD RIGHT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW HOMES

The Order also introduces four new permitted development rights, as Classes AA, AB, AC and AD of Part 20 of Schedule 2 of the 2015 Order, which subject to prior approval, permit the construction of new self-contained homes by allowing additional storeys to be constructed on free standing blocks and on buildings in a terrace in certain commercial uses, and in mixed uses with an element of housing together with necessary engineering works. They also allow additional storeys to be constructed on existing houses which are detached or in a terrace (which includes semi-detached houses) to create new self-contained homes. The new rights apply to buildings built after 1 July 1948 and before 5th March 2018 and the additional storeys must be built in the principal part of the building.

The development must be completed within 3 years of the grant of prior approval.

 Class AA -new dwelling-houses on detached buildings in commercial or mixed use

Class AA permits the construction of up to two new storeys of flats on top of existing, detached, free-standing buildings of 3 storeys or more above ground level in commercial or mixed use as shops (A1), financial and professional services (Class A2), restaurants and cafes (Class A3), or offices (Class B1(a)), or as betting shops, pay day loan shops or launderettes, or in mixed use combining two or more of these uses including a mixed use with an element of housing.

Class AB (new dwelling-houses on terraced buildings in commercial or mixed use)

Class AB permits the construction of new flats on top of terrace buildings (including semi-detached buildings) in the same commercial or mixed uses with an element of residential rehearsed above. Up to two storeys may be added if the existing building is two or more storeys tall above ground level, or one additional storey where the building consists of one storey.

Class AC (new dwelling-houses on terrace buildings in use as dwelling-houses)

Class AC permits the construction of new flats on top of terrace houses (including semi-detached houses); two storeys may be added if the existing building is two or more storeys tall above ground level, or one additional storey where the building consists of one storey above ground level

Class AD (new dwelling-houses on detached buildings in use as dwelling-houses)

Class AD permits the construction of additional storeys on detached houses; two storeys may be constructed on the top most storey of a detached house if the existing building is two or more storeys tall above ground level, or one additional storey where the building consists of one storey above ground level.

There are detailed provisions relating to each  type of development permitted and how they are to be carried out, including what needs to be done in relation to obtaining Prior Approval in each case,  dealt with in the longer version of this article, LONG READ :  Permitted Development. Upward extensions. The rules.

 

Building Better, Building Beautiful vs Build, Build, Build

There remains a distinct tension between the Government’s aims for “building better, building beautiful” and the “build, build, build” agenda recently announced by Boris Johnson and it will be interesting to see how the two sit together. Whilst some effort has been made to maintain architectural symmetry and one of the noble aims of the proposals are to help growing families and support multi-generational living by accommodating the elderly, we are likely to see a changing and chequered skyline through these grand designs under PD.

Planning pundits are in two minds as to how much take-up there will be, given the complex and detailed requirements, which may in reality be closer to a planning application than prior approval as we know it.

The lack of s106 contributions and affordable housing provisions makes the PD route an attractive option to small developers who have been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19 but the fees for prior approval under these rights will be higher than for previous prior approvals. The expansion of PD rights is not a solution to the housing problem and the importance of high quality private and public amenity space, acutely highlighted by lockdown, but building upwards is a step change and it is encouraging that the Government continues to seek to address some of the concerns previously expressed over the quality of accommodation delivered through PD by including natural light and amenity considerations.

One thing is for certain, the rapid expansion of PD rights for upwards extensions shows that the Government is serious about fast tracking and streamlining the planning system and getting away from the delays of newt-counting so eloquently put by Boris Johnson in his recent speech on job creation. There are a lot of hoops to jump and hurdles to overcome (see earlier article on upwards extensions, HERE)  so it is critical to understand the process before embracing the new horizons promised by these PD rights.