Country houses for sale

Planning restrictions change

If you are trying to survive in a Lilliputian-sized world and are eager to expand the proportions of your home, then a new Government initiative to ease planning restrictions on loft conversions and extensions could be the solution to your woes.

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Housing minister Caroline Flint is getting rid of red tape to assist families who currently cannot afford a bigger house or get a mortgage.
The maximum size for building projects that do not require planning permission is to be increased, which is thought will remove 80,000 planning applications – a quarter of the total – from the system, saving £40 million.
From next month, extensions of up to two storeys that do not extend more than 10-feet from the back of the property can be erected without permission.
Loft conversions can go ahead as well without any planning consent if they do not extend more than eight inches from the eaves and are no more than 50 cubic metres in size – roughly the size of a room measuring 18 by 12 feet.
But there is some concern of a building ‘free for all’ that could lead to disputes with neighbours. The new regulations will make it tougher to complain to work that cuts out light or overlooks a garden.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) broadly welcomes the new regulations, but spokesman Andrew Walker says, ‘Household applications are notoriously contentious and there will always be concerns regarding privacy, overlooking and a loss of amenity. It is often not the size of an extension but the ability to overlook which causes contention.’
Russell Hunt, managing director of London property search consultancy Property Hunt goes so far as to label the new legislation as crazy.
‘Councils are likely to become engulfed by minor neighbour disputes, including light and privacy issues, as well as people finding loopholes in the system. Therefore, this legislation neither helps the homeowner, nor the current local council backlogs it has set out to aid,’ he says.