July 2, 2020

Permitted development – changes to permit upwards extensions and require adequate light in house conversions

In this article Michael Harman, Planning Law Solicitor and Partner at Holmes & Hills highlights changes to legislation relating to the upwards extension of housing.

For those present at our 2019 Planning Seminars, you may recall that Steven Hopkins touched upon the possibility of a permitted development right to upwardly extend an existing building to provide for additional dwellings. In part to help meet housing demand on existing floorspace and where, perhaps, brownfield sites are at a premium. This permitted development right was contemplated but Steven noted that we might see a delay in the introduction of such a permitted development right because of other pressures of government. At that time “Brexit” was dominating the headlines, more recently we have seen Covid-19 (Coronavirus) dominate the government’s attention (and rightly so).

However, the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2020  was made on 23 June 2020 and it amends the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (‘the GPDO’) – the changes introduced by these 2020 Regulations are various but here I focus on two topics.

The first is the insertion of a new permitted development right under Part 20 (construction of new dwellinghouses), Class A (new dwellinghouses on detached blocks of flats) of Schedule 2 to the GPDO.

With effect from 1 August 2020:

  • Deemed planning permission will be granted for the construction of up to two storeys to create new flats on the "topmost residential storey on a building which is a purpose-built, detached block of flats". The new permitted development right contains limitations and conditions on how it operates and prior approval is required from the Local Planning Authority (LPA) (regulation 22).
  • The permitted development right under Class A of Part 20 includes, amongst other things, “any or all” engineering operations reasonably necessary to construct the additional storeys and new dwellinghouses; works for the construction of appropriate and safe access/egress to the new and existing dwellings – to include means of escape from fire -  but also works for the construction of storage, waste or other ancillary facilities reasonably necessary to support the new dwellinghouses.
  • As Steven correctly mooted, there are various restrictions/limitations to this new permitted development right. Those restrictions include that the host building must be 3 or more storeys in height, the ceiling height must be the lesser of 3 metres or not more than the floor to ceiling height of any of the existing storeys (whichever is the lesser). In addition, a development is not permitted if the development consists of engineering works other than works within the existing curtilage to strengthen existing wall, foundations or install or replace water, drainage, electricity, gas or other services.
  • As may be expected this new permitted development right requires an applicant to seek the prior approval of the LPA as to various matters to include the external appearance of the building, the impacts on the amenity of the existing building and neighbouring premises to include issues of privacy, overlooking and the loss of light.
  • There are other conditions and limitations and the terms and conditions to this new permitted development Right under Class A of Part 20 can be found here. As always, the devil is in the detail.

Other changes with effect from 1 August 2020 see the requirement for an LPA to consider the provision of adequate natural light to all habitable rooms when considering applications for prior approval for a proposed change of use to a dwellinghouse (regulations 13-17).

Furthermore, and also with effect from 1 August 2020, floor plans will be required to be submitted as part of the prior approval procedure relating to development under classes M, N, O, PA and Q of Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the GPDO 2015. The floor plans will need to show the dimensions and proposed use of each room, the position and dimension of windows, doors and walls, and elevations of the proposed dwellinghouses. The LPA will also be able to refuse prior approval if adequate natural light is not provided to all habitable rooms in the proposed development (regulations 12 and 18).

So further changes to permitted development rights; regarding which our specialist planning law team is available to provide expert advice for those wishing to ensure that works (whether proposed or undertaken) are within the remit of the permitted development regime.

Key Contact

Michael Harman



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