New Planning Regulations – Making it Easier to Build an Extension

New Planning Regulations – Making it Easier to Build an Extension

UPDATE 30/04/2013: The proposed changes to house extension planning permission requirements, as outlined in the article below, have now been given Royal Assent as part of the government’s flagship Growth and Infrastructure Act. This means that for the next three years it is now law for most single-storey house extensions to be twice as large as previously, without needing planning permission. There was a small amendment to the original bill which sets out a light-touch neighbours’ consultation scheme. Following debate in the House of Commons, it was clear that many MPs were concerned that neighbours’ interests were not being given full consideration in the proposed bill. As a result, the government suggested the amendment, which allows for neighbours to be given the right to be consulted on building work.

Get free, no obligation Same Day Quotes for your House Extension

SecretaryEric PicklesHomeowners who want to build a new extension under the new rules are to notify their local council, who will inform the neighbours of the proposed changes. If the neighbours do object, it will be up to the council to decide whether the extension can go ahead. The amendment was accepted by the House of Lords and the Act is now law. The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said the Act will: “unlock British entrepreneurship … whilst ensuring democratic checks and environmental safeguards remain in place.”

In a measure that could have a huge impact on the home improvement market, the government is proposing new planning permission regulations designed to make it easier for homeowners to get a house extension. Aimed at removing needless costs and time delays to many people’s home improvement plans, the government’s proposal is for a three year period in which the average size of a home extension which does not need planning permission can be doubled.

Currently an extension which reaches four metres from the wall of a detached house is allowed without planning permission, and for attached houses the extension is allowed to reach three metres from the wall. With the new proposal these sizes will be doubled to eight metres and six metres respectively. image source:

An end to red tape?

The government hopes that by slashing red tape and getting rid of a lot of unwanted bureaucracy, many more people will consider getting a house extension, thus stimulating the economy and the home building industry in particular. It is estimated that there are around 40,000 homeowners currently wishing to extend their property, and measures such as this are designed to make sure they move forward with their plans and get the work done.

scaled drawings

Planning permission fees are currently £150, but the process of obtaining the permission can be considerably more costly. Professional fees, the price of getting scaled drawings made up and the costs of gathering the necessary information and documentation can add up to thousands of pounds. With no need for planning permission, all of these costs will be swept away and it is hoped more people will be incentivised to get a house extension as a result. image source:

What will the new proposals mean for homeowners?

The proposal allows for doubling the size of single storey house extensions which don’t need planning permission, plus a range of other measures. In a consultation paper entitled ‘Extending permitted development rights for homeowners and businesses’ the Department for Communities and Local Government proposes an identical arrangement for conservatories and also measures to make it easier to convert a garage into a live-in annex, as well as suggestions for businesses to increase their floor space.


In order to ensure that neighbouring properties are not adversely affected by any developments, many existing limitations will remain unchanged. For example, an extension will still not be allowed to cover more than 50% of a home’s curtilage and the height maximum will remain at 4 metres. Also, building regulations, the Party Wall act and environmental regulations will remain unchanged by the new proposals. image source:

Under review

Not everyone is in favour of the new measures however. Friends of the Earth has voiced reservations about making such dramatic changes to the planning application process, and many are unconvinced that the proposals will make much of a difference to the economy at large. Nick Boles, the Planning Minister, has countered that the new measures will allow thousands of homeowners to improve their properties in a way which won’t affect neighbours, the local community or the environment.

First announced in autumn 2012, the scheme has not yet been given the full go ahead, although technical consultations for the plan have recently closed. Watch this space for more details soon. For information on the current allowances for extensions that don’t need planning permission, check the House Extension Online Extension Guide and the government’s Planning Portal.