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Relaxation of rules on building home extensions – an end to red-tape or a cowboy builders’ charter?

Martin Shankleman discusses the pros and cons of the proposed planning permission holiday

More than a month after the government announced the it was proposing to relax the rules on building home extensions, there’s still not word on when the change will start. Furthermore the official consultation period, which has to be carried out prior to the changes being implemented, hasn’t  even begun. A government official merely said the consultation will start ‘shortly’. There’s trouble brewing though, as many councils have come out against the plans.

The proposals are likely to be controversial because they allow homeowners to extend their properties by up to 8 metres without permission, compared with a limit of 3 metres in force now. The new rules which will apply to single storey extensions only, and the total extension of the property cannot exceed half of the original garden area. The potential for conflict between neighbours is great – one man’s enlarged kitchen, could be seen as another man’s monstrosity.

And the fact that the changes will only apply to 2015, the date of the next general election, adds to the perception that this might be seen as political sweetener to woo the homeowning vote. On the plus side, the proposal could well provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to carry out significant ground floor work without interference from the council. The only problem is that many builders don’t like small jobs, and there may may well be a shortage of good quality construction firms prepared to do this type of work. In which case the cowboys could have a field day.

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