Early September saw the British Government announce plans to relax planning laws for a three year period to get planning officers ‘off people’s backs’ and encourage economic growth. The idea is to generate more work for tradesmen and property professionals in the short term via increasing the numbers of extensions going ahead.
The idea will go to consultation soon, but critics, in particular from inside the Labour party, have declared the solution “not up to the scale of the challenge” and not addressing the real problem of a “lack of confidence and demand in the economy”.
Not only this, but the Local Government Association has released figures which show a backlog of 400,000 prospective homes which have planning permission but have not yet been built. Thus indicating that the planning process has not, in reality, been holding up home development.
Perhaps the greatest problem for the plans, however, is that of misunderstandings of their actual extent leading to legal action. Legal and property professionals fear that thousands of illegal extensions could be built across England and Wales due to uncertainty over the relaxations. The plans only extend to planning permission and do not incorporate other crucial obligations.
Building Regulations Approval, for example, will remain stringent, ensuring that the construction quality and detailing of the resulting extensions is up to scratch. Where an extension encroaches on a public sewer or drain, it will still require a build over agreement with the local water service provider. Where the home owner fails to obtain the necessary approval, he/she could face remedial action.
It is always wise to appoint a Chartered Surveyor to oversee your extension works; ensuring that the works are of the expected quality and the relevant legal obligations are satisfied.
Find your local Chartered Surveyor here on the PropertySurveying.co.uk network.