Home development in England: Do I need permission?

Home development in England: Do I need permission?

Khaled Ellatif is in the Commercial Property Department at Axiom Stone Solicitors, a full-service legal practice with offices Edgware, Mayfair and Harrow in London and Birmingham.

In this special column, Ellatif offers some real estate related insights based on his expertise across a variety of matters such as sales and purchases of freehold and leasehold property; refinances and auction transactions; drafting/approving leases, deeds, contracts, notices, licences and other landlord and tenant related documents; and advising on a wide range of property transactions, including sales, purchases, leases, assignments and deeds of variations.

The government’s latest measure and changes regarding permitted development has come as welcome news to many especially those property enthusiasts. With so much information on the internet, both old and current, it sometimes can become confusing on knowing what exactly has happened and what the changes are.

First and foremost, what is permitted development? For those who are unfamiliar with the term, permitted development enables homeowners to undertake certain types of works within their home without the need to apply for planning permission. There is a wide scope as to what works can be considered “permitted” but the most obvious one would be an extension to your home. But be careful, as such developments are subject to certain requirements being met.

So what’s changed?

Changes from the authorities in August 2020 have been introduced to help you to do even more to your home. The thinking behind this change has been a need to enable the repurposing of buildings on high street and town centres.

The changes significantly extend the scope of new developments which can be carried out without planning permission. From the August 31, 2021:

  • You have the right of demolition and rebuilding of “vacant and redundant” offices and light industrial buildings into dwellings, without planning permission.

  • You will be able to extend upwards by up to two storeys of existing post war-built homes. These rights will also be extended to the creation of new homes above terraces, offices and shops, without planning permission (this will only be existing residential dwellings or purpose-built, detached blocks of flats. A Mixed-use building cannot benefit from these new rights).

To put this into perspective, you will be able to (1) construct up to two additional storeys to dwelling houses consisting of at least two storeys and (2) one additional storey to a one storey dwelling houses.

Whilst this all sounds straightforward, there is a need for “prior approval” from your local planning authorities which confirms that there is no impact on adjoining premises (such as overlooking privacy and loss of light) and that the eternal appearance of the building is sufficient. The development cannot begin until prior approval is received.

If you can successfully satisfy the requirements for the development, you will need to complete the works within three years from the date of “prior approval” and in accordance with its specifications.

Unfortunately, there are limitations. The changes to permitted development will not apply to:

  • Buildings converted to residential houses under permitted development right;

  • Buildings in conservation areas (such as areas of outstanding natural beauty);

  • Buildings constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 28 October 2018;

  • Where the existing dwelling house has been enlarged already by the addition of one or storeys whether under permitted development.

Use Classes

There have been extensive changes to the “use classes” system in England. The changes seem to represent a significant shift in control away from local authorities into a significantly less regulated environment.

Khaled Ellatif is a Trainee Solicitor in the Commercial Property Department of Axiom Stone Solicitors. He has had the opportunity to undertake placements within the Conveyancing, Commercial and International Trade sectors across the Middle East. Further, Khaled has developed his experience within the UK by working with law firms specialising in a variety of fields such as Immigration, Conveyancing, Commercial, Employment and Family Law. Having recently completed his LLB and also his LPC and LLM within the same academic year, Khaled is very much looking forward to qualifying as a solicitor this year.

*Info: For questions on this article or any real estate related queries, please feel free to contact Khaled on KA@axiomstone.co.uk or Ebru Yuruk, Senior Associate, on EY@axiomstone.co.uk

**Note: The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of publication in February 2021. The remarks in this article are not a substitute for legal advice on the specific circumstances of any case.

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