It has been reported that homeowners will be able to add two-storey extensions to their homes without planning permission, but it is unclear how this will be implemented. 

The measure was drawn up by Chancellor Sajid Javid and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and announced at the Conservatives’ annual conference this week, but there has been no formal documentation laying out how the plan will work. 

The loosening of the planning permission could theoretically make it easier for renovators and extenders to expand their homes upwards, and homeowners would no longer be required to seek approval from neighbours. However, concern has been raised as to how this will affect communities.  


Providing the house meets local planning authority guidelines and Building Regulations then there is reportedly no formal route for neighbours to object to a two-storey extension. Councils will maintain powers to limit builds based on how they look or how they are designed.

Permitted Development Rights

The requirement for planning permission would reportedly be scrapped enabling the new upward extensions to be made under Permitted Development (PD) rights. PD enables homeowners to undertake certain types of work without the need to apply for planning permission, and can be used for small extensions and loft conversions. 

There have been a number of revisions of PD rights in recent years: one particularly key change occurred in May 2019 when it became possible to build larger rear single-storey extensions under Class A of PD.

Certain home improvements fall within different classes within the PD rules. Under Class A, homeowners require prior notification for extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration). Under Class B, homeowners can build additions to the roof; Class C is for other alterations to the roof; Class D is for porches; and Class E is for outbuildings.

Sally Tagg, Managing Director at Foxley Tagg and technical planning expert for both Homebuilding & Renovating and NaCSBA, has concerns as to whether there will be a conflict with design and impact on neighbours’ amenity; reform would at the very least need to be part of the prior notification process. This is a form of PD whereby the local planning authority must be informed of details prior to development taking place and neighbours are formally consulted.

“Because the announcement is not formal yet it is very unclear about what it will comprise. Conceptually, rolling back further on permitted development should be treated with caution and concern in terms of the potential impact it may have in design terms which is an important plank of place making,” said Tagg.

The RTPI has also stressed its fear over allowing two-storey upwards extension on family homes without planning permission. Richard Blyth, the RTPI’s head of policy, said the new proposal would undermine the government’s bid to involve communities in improving housing design

What Can We Expect?

Until more details are revealed, it is problematic to evaluate the impact of this reform on renovators and extenders. 

Reportedly the rollout will occur in January on purpose-built blocks of flats, but information relating to detached properties is yet to be elucidated. 

Homebuilding.co.uk will be following this story and stay on top of any updates regarding how the loosening of planning permission will be legislated.

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