9/12/20 – Prior Approval Upward Extensions: Realistic or Opportunistic?

Developers and home owners in England will be able to make use of permanent rights provided for in regulation to add storeys to certain types of buildings to help meet the growing demand for new housing.

The newly created Class AA – AD of the General Permitted Development Order allows for the upward enlargement, by up to two storeys, of dwellings and commercial/mixed use buildings, subject to Prior Approval. The addition is another measure that the Government hope will support economic recovery from COVID-19 by encouraging development and provide more space for growing families, without them having to move.

The Prior Approval process means that specific matters should be applied for in any submission, including potential highway impacts, contamination and flooding risks, external appearance, provision of adequate natural light, impact on amenity of the existing neighbouring buildings and protected views. There are specific limitations which need to be considered carefully within these submissions.

Practical Application of Prior Approval

The additional Permitted Development Rights theoretically provide opportunities to construct additional storeys in place of a planning application. However, there are elements that are open to consideration will still by the Council still need addressing, notably the consideration of good design, which can be difficult to define, whilst the need to protect amenity which can be troublesome within tight-knit urban areas. This offers much less certainty to proposals than those typically expected through Permitted Development submissions.

Being a relatively new process, there are currently few existing decisions. This makes the process ambiguous initially to both developers and Local Authorities, until precedents and case studies are set. Although providing no certainty, it does however provide a potential development option which may not otherwise be available. One significant advantage of this process over a normal planning application is that the Council are unable to consider aspects such as affordable housing and green belt impacts.

Whilst this updated permitted development legislation is an attempt to unlock the development potential of existing stock, it is far from straight forward with many potential pitfalls. It is therefore recommended to have a planning consultant on board to prepare the submission, in order to maximise the chances of success.

Should you have any queries in respect of the above information or have a property you think could benefit from Permitted Development, please contact Ed Norris on 07769 167142 or by email ed.norris@argroup.co.uk