Government relaxes planning permission for retail and housing extensions

The government has confirmed ‘permitted development’ rules allowing homeowners and high street businesses to extend their properties quickly without needing full planning permission.

The wide-ranging package of reforms, announced over the weekend, makes permanent rights first introduced in 2014 which permit home extensions without homeowners needing to seek planning permission from their local authority.

The reforms will also affect commercial properties, in a move the government says will allow high street shops to react more quickly to changing customer trends.

Announcing the measures, housing minister Kit Malthouse MP said: ‘These measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape.

‘By making this permitted development right permanent, it will mean families can grow without being forced to move.

‘This is part of a package of reforms to build more, better, faster and make the housing market work – and sits alongside our drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.’

Under the rules, homeowners can put a single-storey extension at the rear of their property of up to six metres for terraced or semi-detached homes, or up to eight metres for detached homes.

According to government figures, 110,000 extensions of this type have been completed when the rules were first introduced temporarily in 2014.

The new reforms also extend these ‘permitted development’ rights to shops, who will now be allowed to change to office space without requiring a full planning application.

The changes will also allow high street businesses such as shops, offices and betting shops to temporarily change to serve as community spaces such as libraries and public halls.

The government say the high street reforms will help businesses to attract more skilled professionals and increase footfall on the high street.

High streets minister Jake Berry MP said: ‘This fantastic news joins our £675 million Future High Streets Fund and our High Streets Task Force in ensuring our country’s high streets are fit to thrive not just now, but in the years to come.

‘Giving greater certainty to property owners and the wider industry, it will also help businesses adjust to the changing needs of the consumer.’

The reforms have been criticised by the Local Government Association (LGA) who said that the new rights undermine local authorities’ planning departments.

Martin Tett, the LGA’s planning spokesman, said: ‘Permitted development rules are taking away the ability of local communities to shape the area they live in, ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place and have resulted in the potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.

‘While we recognise building extensions under permitted development has been popular with homeowners, the planning process exists for a reason.’

The LGA has called for a full independent review into the impact of the ‘permitted development’ right on residents, businesses and local planning departments before it is made permanent.

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