A new law is set to allow homeowners to add up to a couple of storeys to their properties without the need to apply for planning permission in the usual way.

This ‘fast-track’ system is aimed at allowing families to extend their homes to accommodate growing numbers of children, or to house older relatives, as their circumstances change. It applies whether people want a self-contained ‘granny annexe’ or to extend their main property.

At the moment, if you’re extending any property above a certain height, you have to apply for permission through the existing system, which has remained broadly unchanged for some seven decades, and it can take months to get approval.

The new arrangements aim to cut the amount of paperwork and halve the length of time involved, from the current average of 16 weeks to eight.

You will, however, as you’d expect, still need to be mindful of the impact building has on your surroundings, and what the finished extension will look like.

Part of sweeping reforms

The move is part of wider, sweeping changes to England’s planning system, which PM Boris Johnson insists will make it easier to build new homes more quickly, and meaning young people can get on the property ladder more easily.

The government has stressed it’s keen to lessen the number of planning cases which are thrown out on appeal with what it calls a ‘clearer, rules-based system’.

Shops and other commercial premises will also be able to be turned into homes, while disused buildings can be torn down and rebuilt for housing without the need to seek planning permission in full.

The change is additionally part of the government’s plans to create more housing while revitalising towns and cities.

What does this mean for me?

It means that if you want to move, and have seen somewhere you love but would need to extend it, you will be able to do so more speedily, without having to go through a lengthy planning application process.

Additionally, if you’re upping sticks, and there is potential for extending your property, you could make that a key selling point, reflected in the price.

Equally, if you want to move an elderly relative in with you, and have them live in a self-contained extension, you will be able to do so more easily and quickly, and then, if you wanted, put their former home on the market.

To recap – you can add two storeys to your home with no need to apply for full planning permission under the proposed fast-track approval system.

What does the law say now?

Here’s what you can already do without planning permission:

  • Add a one-storey extension that doesn’t protrude over 3m from the existing house (terraced and semi-detached homes) or 4m from a detached place. (Equally, it mustn’t occupy more than half of the existing room around the property.)
  • Install a loft conversion without planning permission if no bigger than 50m3 (detached and semis) or 40m3 (terraces).

How we can help

At Oakfield Estate Agents, our Sales Director Kerry Newstead says:

“We think these plans will do a lot to cut red-tape and delays within the system. We also feel some reform has long been needed, given how long the current arrangements have been in place. We see this as a very positive step forward and, of course, improvements like extensions can do a great deal to enhance the value of a house.

“Coupled with the stamp duty holiday, it’s now a very good time to move if you have a property to sell with capacity for an extension, or have seen your dream home but would want to expand it.

At Oakfield, we work closely with an excellent local architectural consultancy, Pump House Designs, who we are happy to recommend to homeowners in our areas. Feel free to chat to us about how a proposed extension could seriously enhance the worth of your property – we’re always pleased to offer knowledgeable advice and guidance.

As mentioned previously, we’ve been busy since Covid-related restrictions on movement in the property market were lifted, and we expect that to continue for the rest of 2020.

Whether you want to sell or buy in Hastings, Eastbourne or Bexhill, make us your first port of call, dropping us a quick email in the first instance – let’s take it from there.