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Architect: Dramatic house extension ‘owes existence’ to planning reforms

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The coalition government’s planning reforms have opened up new opportunities for innovation, according to one London-based architect

Peter Morris cites an unconventional house extension in south-east London as an example of why changes to permitted development rights that came into effect last year are a good for creativity.

In May 2013 the government introduced a temporary rule-relaxation on the maximum size of home extensions that can be built without full planning permission, provided they do not involve properties in conservation areas or those subject to other restrictions.

Morris’ rear extension for a three-storey mid-20th Centrury home in Forest Hill twists and folds to avoid blocking neighbours’ views, eventually rising to double-height.

He believes its 6m-long design, which will connect to the existing building at a height of 2.4m before rising to 4m, would have been unlikely to escape interference from planning officers had full permission been required.

Morris said the simple rules about maximum height and length for extensions were polices that offered a refreshingly objective alternative to the ‘subjective’ scrutiny of full planning permission.

‘The application process is quicker and cheaper,’ he said.

‘The designs are only given to the immediate neighbours; they have three weeks to provide valid objections. If there are none, the planners have three weeks to determine if the design complies with permitted development.

‘I do not believe that such a contemporary design, with uncompromising angles and Siberian oak timber cladding, would have survived intact with full the planning permission process.

‘It seems to me that permitted development is working. It allows us to be designers and design good contemporary homes, with less risk of being bastardised.’

The extension, which had a construction budget of £100,000, has a steel frame at its core that is clad in timber both externally and internally, sandwiching insulation.

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