The climbdown that makes a loft conversion easier
Wednesday 28 November, 2007
Printed in the Daily Mail, Wednesday November 28, 2007
By Daniel Martin Political Reporter
MINISTERS yesterday per¬≠formed a climbdown on loft conversions in a move that could spark a new round of disputes between neighbours.
In the biggest shake-up of planning laws for 20 years, the Government announced in the summer that planning permission would no longer be needed for many home extension plans.
But on loft conversions, the White Paper said they would have to be set back at least one metre (39in) from the eaves - otherwise planning per¬≠mission would have to be sought.
However, following complaints in the consultation stage that this would make loft rooms too tiny in smaller houses, ministers have rel¬≠axed their proposed rules.
They announced yesterday in the Planning Reform Bill that lofts would only have to be set back 20 centime¬≠tres (7.8in) from the eaves - allowing much larger rooms.
But the change will make it much more difficult for neighbours to object to loft extensions which over¬≠look their garden or take away their light.
The Government embarked on a major review of planning laws in order to take the pressure off councils swamped by a doubling of applica¬≠tions from homeowners over the last decade.
The new rules will save homeowners hundreds of pounds. A routine planning application - such as the building of a conservatory - can take three months to be resolved and can cost up to ¬£1,000. Around nine in ten of these are accepted and ministers believe they are clogging up councils which should be concentrating on more difficult decisions and larger projects.
The number of applications from homeowners has more than doubled in the past decade to almost 330,000. It is thought the changes will cut that number by a quarter, saving more than ¬£40million a year.
The Government announced in the summer that planning permission would no longer be needed for minor developments such as conservatories, and small-scale extensions where it is clear they will have little impact-on neighbouring properties.
Permission will not be needed for conservatories as long as they do not stick into the garden by more than three metres (118in), or four metres (157in) for detached bungalows.
Brian Berry from the Federation of, Master Builders, which had launched a 'Save Our Lofts' campaign follow¬≠ing the White Paper, welcomed the climbdown last night.
He said the 20cm rule 'means that the worst design excesses of the past will be avoided without com¬≠promising homeowners' desire to create more space in their homes'.
He added: 'Everyone is a winner - householders, communities, designers and the loft industry.'
The new rules on extensions, which concentrates on how far they stick out, replace the com¬≠plicated old regime which was based on their volume. Under the old system, people had to decide whether they wanted a conserva¬≠tory or a loft conversion.
Now they will be able to have both without planning permis¬≠sion - so long as they do not stick out too far.
In conservation areas, planning permission will still be needed for most extensions.
- Reproduced with permission of Daily Mail