Relaxed Planning Laws Boost for Home Improvements Sector

by Paul Forrest on 28 Nov, 2012

Double glazing companies will welcome new plans that the UK Government has outlined in its Technical Consultation, “Extending Permitted Development Rights for Homeowners and Businesses”.

The Government wants to regenerate the ailing construction industry by relaxing planning laws. House owners will be allowed to extend a single storey up to eight metres from their existing exterior wall without formal planning permission.

The new laws will be subject to variances in local planning arrangements, for instance in conservation areas. In some cases where the proposed extension approaches within one metre of neighbouring property boundaries, planning permission may still be required.

Currently, if homeowners want to extend their home for more than a few metres from their property’s rear wall, they are subject to complicated and long-winded planning applications. 200,000 applications are submitted every year; of which, some 90% are approved.

The Government are keen to encourage homeowners to improve their properties in order to kick-start the economy. According to the government’s projections, an extra 20,000 extensions could generate up to £600m of construction work, which in turn is hoped to result in an estimated additional 18,000 jobs.

Relaxed Planning Laws Boost for Home Improvements Sector 2The new planning regime has had a mixed reception. The main criticism seems to rest with potential disputes with neighbours. The leader of Wandsworth council, Ravi Govindia, shared his concerns that removing controls, particularly in residential areas, would increase disputes. He said: “In many cases a six to eight metre home extension would have a serious impact on neighbouring properties and should not be permitted”.

Neighbours unhappy that the extension is too close to their property will still be able to bring the matter to the attention of the local planning department. In the case of a complaint against a permitted development, an enforcement officer will be sent by the local authority to adjudicate on the work.

Boost to the economy

Whereas the relaxation of planning rules should help local builders, double glazing companies and associated trades, such as electricians, carpenters and decorators, it will also, no doubt, attract the chancers and cowboys seeking to make a quick buck on the back of increased demand.

When planning an extension, such as a conservatory, or maybe converting a garage to an additional room, or even replacing your windows, it is important to choose a company with a proven history in customer service.

A reputable company will provide professional designers and surveyors to produce plans that meet your needs. Work should be based on your unique requirements, not on a one-size-fits-all scenario.

All work should be guaranteed in writing. It is unwise to choose a supplier purely on price. Always ask for customer testimonies and, where possible, arrange to see examples of the company’s finished work.

Although the government’s attempt to revitalise a stagnant construction industry will be mainly welcomed, some are questioning whether the relaxing of planning restrictions will give the troubled sector the necessary impetus.

Not everyone is happy

The Local Government Association claims that work has failed to be carried out on thousands of properties that have already been successfully awarded planning permission. The economic crises of the past five years have left many families struggling to meet existing commitments. Unless someone has the necessary funds in the bank to pay for extension work, increased borrowing is still impracticable or impossible for most homeowners.

That said, the government is to be applauded in its efforts to get Britain building again. A flourishing construction industry is essential in order for the economy to start growing. Double glazing companies and builders subcontract work out to a variety of associated trades and craftsmen, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, decorators.

The end result should be more work, bringing additional spending into a shrinking economy.

About the Author

Paul Forrest

Paul Forrest is an experienced writer in many fields of interest and we are delighted that he will now be a regular contributor to in 2012.