Up, Up, Up and Away

01st July 2020
By James Doherty

Permitted development rights to allow upward extensions to residential buildings has been on the Government’s agenda since 2016 when the proposals were originally consulted on. Whilst the proposals were appealing and certainly grabbed the headlines, there was concern that the prior approval process may be too onerous overriding any benefit.

Ever since, there has been much speculation about when this might come into fruition; many expected further detail to be contained in the long awaited Planning White Paper. Surprisingly, last week in what appears to be a reaction to the pandemic, the Government announced that a new permitted development right (PDR) allowing up to two storeys to be added to residential buildings would be introduced from 1st August. 

The new Permitted Development Right (PDR) has been added to the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulation 2020, which was laid before parliament on 24th June.

Can all buildings benefit from this?

No, unfortunately not. As with all permitted development rights, there a number of exemptions and requirements. This new PDR is no different, only some buildings will be able to benefit.

The regulations set out the following exemptions and restrictions:

-          PDR is only applicable to buildings which are a purpose-built, detached block of flats (not conversions including buildings which have been converted through PDR such as office to residential conversion schemes);

-          Existing buildings must be more than 3 storeys in height (above ground level);

-          The existing building must have been constructed between 01 July 1948 and 05 March 2018;

-          The extension must only be on the principal part of the building and not extend beyond the curtilage of the existing building;

-          The building must not be listed or within a protected area such as a conservation area;

-          The floor to ceiling heights of the additional storeys need to match the existing floor below or not exceed 3 metres, whichever is less;

-          The extension cannot raise the height of the existing roof by more than 7 metres;

-          The overall height of the extended building cannot exceed 30 metres (excluding plant);

-          Any development benefitting from this PDR must be completed within a period of 3 years;

-          A Construction Management Plan must be submitted to the LPA prior to commencement; and

-          New floorspace created will be liable for the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Prior notification is required

Prior notification to the Council is also required, which as anticipated is somewhat onerous. Applications for prior notification needs to cover detail similar to office to residential PDR such as transport and highways, contamination, flooding but also includes design matters including external appearance, daylight/sunlight matters, amenity of the existing and neighbouring buildings, impact on air traffic/defence and impact on protected views.

In light of the above the Council are likely to need a number of technical reports/assessments to support applications and demonstrate compliance with the criteria above.

The Local Planning Authority will need to consult relevant bodies and local residents on the proposals.

Helpfully the regulations also include a number of associated works for which prior approval may be granted, such as rooftop plant, refuse storage and structural works.

Amenity now a consideration for office to residential PDR

The amendments to the regulations also require forthcoming office to residential permitted development schemes to provide adequate natural light to habitable rooms. This addition is due to concerns about the quality of some of the dwellings constructed through office to residential PDR schemes.

Is it as good as it seems?

Overall whilst the Government’s intent is positive, given the requirements and exemptions set out in the regulations we expect that the take up is likely to be fairly limited. However, it could act as a useful fallback position for developers and landowners when discussing redevelopment if you can demonstrate that prior approval is likely to be granted. It may also be beneficial to overcome affordable housing requirements whereby Local Authorities, such as Camden and Islington require affordable housing for small sites.

If you wish to discuss this further or have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.

 
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