Monday, October 14, 2013

Planning Reform – New ‘Permitted’ Development Rights are not permitted at all!

I am not sure how the new ‘extended permitted development rights’ make it easier to construct larger extensions, as a developer still has to submit details to a Local Authority and obtain prior approval
Over recent years the UK planning system has received a huge amount of negative publicity, with stories of applications being held up by red tape, planning departments struggling to cope with the volume of applications they receive and the manner in which the planning system is stifling development. In order to try to address some of these issues and to stimulate development the UK government have recently (temporarily) introduced amendments to permitted development rights which allow a wider scope of developments to be undertaken that do not require formal planning permission. These new and amended rights took effect on 30 May 2013 and will be available, in the most part for a period of three years, ending on 30 May 2016.  In summary the main changes to existing permitted development rights for this temporary period include:
  1. Larger single storey rear extensions to residential properties
  2. Larger extensions to industrial and warehousing premises, shops and offices
  3. Conversions between office and residential uses
  4. More flexible uses of shops, offices, residential institutions and agricultural buildings
  5. Easier conversion of premises for school uses
  6. Telecommunications installations in conservation areas

Further details of the new permitted development rights can be found on the Planning Portal: (Link).

The advantages of permitted development to the party proposing the works are clear; Planning applications often require professional advice in order to produce drawings, submit the application in the correct format, liaise with the Local Authority, all of which, in addition the planning fee itself can prove to be expensive.  There is also the possibility that the application may receive objections from neighbours/local residents, which will be taken into account by the Local Authority when making a decision on the application. All of this expense, stress and uncertainty can be avoided if the development is deemed to be 'permitted development'. This is all well and good for the party who propose to undertake the work, but not such good news for those who are likely to be affected by it!

Interestingly, the Planning Portal, ‘the UK Government’s online Planning and Building Regulations resource for England and Wales’ (their words not mine), introduces permitted development by stating You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission’. To many people, particularly living next door or those in close proximity to someone claiming permitted development rights, may not view a rear residential extension of 8 metres in length, beyond the existing rear wall for a detached dwelling (6 metres for a semi-detached dwelling), and up to 4 metres high, as minor, however this now falls within the extended scope of permitted development.  Although by definition permitted development suggests that works that fall within the scope of the rights, is allowed, without the need for any application or any permission, this is not strictly correct, as the extended permitted development rights have introduced a new ‘procedure’ to confirm that the rights actually apply for larger residential extensions. You could argue that although obtaining confirmation of permitted development rights is a simpler process than submitting a formal planning application, it actually takes away the ‘permitted’ element until the new procedure has been followed.  Therefore in reality the Local Authority is still providing a permission of some description thereby negating one of the main purposes of permitted development. 

New Procedure:

Prior to commencing any works the resident must:
  1. Notify (in writing), the Local Authority of the proposed works with an outline of the proposed works, dimensions, a site plan, adjoining owners addresses and contact details of the developer.
  2. The Local Authority then has 42 days to issue a decision from the date that the information is received.
  3. During the 42 day ‘consideration period’ the Local Authority will invite representations from adjoining owners for a minimum period of 21 days. If any objections are received during this period, a Local Authority prior approval will be required for the extension.
  4. If no objections are raised within the 21 days, the Local Authority will inform the developer that no prior approval is required and confirm that the development can commence.
  5. If the extension is deemed to be acceptable the Local Authority will issue a written notice giving prior approval within the 42 day period. Alternatively, if deemed unacceptable a prior approval refusal notice will be issued by the Local Authority with the 42 day period. This will prevent the development from proceeding, however there is an appeal process available to the developer.
  6.  If a decision is not provided with 42 days by the Local Authority, then permission will be granted automatically
  7.  Any works that are permitted must be completed strictly in accordance with the details already provided to the Local Authority
When you consider the procedure detailed above it is reasonable to ask ‘how is this permitted development’?  In fact apart from the level of detail required, there is very little difference between this new procedure and a formal planning application.  How could this possibly fall under permitted development? It seems that in trying to find a streamlined way to encourage development that the new procedure has actually provided us with what we already have, which is a system that requires an application and a permission.  I am not sure how the new extended ‘permitted development rights’ make it easier to construct larger extensions, as a developer still has to submit details to a Local Authority and obtain prior approval.  Prior approval cannot be permitted development as the notion of gaining an approval and dressing it up as something that is permitted is nothing short of ridiculous.  This really seems like a pointless part of the new temporary permitted development requirements and although other changes may be more effective I am at a loss to see how this will have any impact whatsoever.

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1 comment:

  1. Whats the cost of the approval? cant see the local authority's doing the paperwork for free. Chris