Architects Call on Government to Ease Planning Regulations During the Economic Slowdown

Architect Your Home (http://www.architect-yourhome.com), Britain's largest provider of architectural services for homeowners, have called on the Government to go further with their legislative changes relating to planning permission in order to help homeowners who want, or need, to renovate their properties.

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London, UK (PRWEB) December 4, 2008

Despite recent changes to planning laws, which were designed to reduce the number of planning applications and simplify the process, most of the nation's homeowners will be no better off under the new rules.

The problems with this cumbersome planning process can be felt now, more than ever before, due to the current economic crisis and flat property market. This means the current cost of moving is prohibitively high and so, homeowners who are looking to renovate their current homes as an alternative, are finding that the complex planning system is getting in the way of their plans. Recent statistics appear to back up this claim as the second quarter of 2008 saw a nine per cent drop in household planning applications across the UK.*

Hugo Tugman, the founder of Architect Your Home said:

"When they were announced recently, most people welcomed the new laws on planning as given the state of the property market, many saw it as an opportunity for many families to get the space that they needed by extending their existing properties. Unfortunately, however, it has since become clear that the new planning rules mean the process is just as difficult as it was before. Ultimately therefore these changes are not going to help homeowners, the building industry or local authorities.

What we need in the current economic climate is positive action from the Government to resolve this situation. We have recently seen a temporary stop on stamp duty helping first time buyers through these economically difficult times, but why not introduce a temporary relaxation on planning rules for homeowners who have no other option but to increase the space in their homes.

We are not talking about allowing developers to build multi-storey flats, but relaxing the rules to help homeowners who need to renovate to provide their families with proper living space. Such a move would also provide a much needed boost for the construction industry."

Deciphering the impact of the new planning legislation is a difficult task and tables below help to outline some of the pros and cons of the new regulations.

Pros of new regulations:

  • Previously each property had a maximum volume limit for extensions, beyond which a planning application would be needed. This often meant that people would have to choose between a loft extension or a kitchen extension for example. The new rules restrict the size in other ways, but without the volume limit.
  • In certain instances, side extensions are now within permitted development where they were not before.
  • Out-buildings (such as garages or home office 'sheds') were previously only counted as out-buildings if they were more than 5m from the house. Now they still count if they are nearer.

Cons of new regulations:

  • Local planning departments (many of whom have long opposed the way that permitted development rights can side-step their influence) will have much more freedom to exclude as much of their district from any permitted development rights as they choose, whether it is a "conservation area" or not.
  • Extensions will only now fall within permitted development rights if they are to be built from materials of "similar appearance" to the original house. This is an abstract clause that will be open to interpretation and abuse and also potentially restricts interesting or contrasting design.
  • Loft extensions will now have to be constructed 20cm back from the eaves line (the bottom edge of the roof where the gutter runs along). This potentially restricts interesting design, makes the loft room smaller than necessary and can create unnecessarily awkward structural problems where external walls cannot be built above the walls below. The volume limit that has been relaxed on extensions, still applies to loft extensions.
  • Upper-floor side windows, which were previously unrestricted, now have to be fixed shut and frosted below 1.7m to protect privacy of neighbours. This restriction applies whether or not there are any neighbours in the vicinity.
  • Verandas, balconies and raised platforms are all now excluded from Permitted development rights.

*http://www.communities.gov.uk

Architect Your Home operates across the whole of the UK with a network of more than 50 offices. Since 2001, Architect Your Home has provided home design, house plans and architectural services to over 4,000 homeowners.

Architect Your Home revolutionised traditional architects' working methods and developed a unique cost-effective pay-as-you-go menu of services. This has given homeowners access to a professional qualified architects regardless of their project size or budget.

If you would like any further information including case studies and imagery or if you would like to speak with Hugo Tugman then please do not hesitate to contact Nina Longstaff, Head of Marketing and PR.

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