Architects will be allowed to extend buildings upwards without planning permission under a proposed widening of permitted development rights (PDR) aimed at tackling the housing crisis
The move, which was trailed earlier in the year, is part of a slew of red tape-busting planning changes announced by chancellor Philip Hammond during yesterday’s budget (29 October).
The government revealed it had launched a consultation on plans to permit rooftop additions, free from the usual permissions, above ’commercial premises and residential properties including blocks of flats’ and to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes.
Hammond also said the proposed reforms would look at the relaxation of planning rules for the ’typical high street’ which would allow shops to be converted ’to change to a wider range of uses, allowing more leisure and community uses such as gyms, libraries, health care and office use’ as well as creating more homes.
According to the consultation document, the policy offers ‘an opportunity to bring forward well-designed homes which enhance the streetscape while making effective use of land for housing, boosting housing density in areas of high demand such as our town centres and high streets, increasing footfall and preventing unwanted garden-grabbing’.
It continues: ’We know that additional new homes are already being brought forward using the airspace above existing buildings and approved through the planning application process. There is now an opportunity to consider the introduction of a permitted development right to further support the creation of additional new homes above certain existing buildings in high streets and town centres.’
The government said the move had been inspired by reports by the likes of Policy Exchange and Create Streets, which noted that ’some of the most densely populated areas of cities are some of the most desirable’ and that ‘English urban areas are relatively low-density by international standards, and that good design means that high density does not have to be the same as tall buildings’.
In November last year property consultant Knight Frank cross-referenced Ordnance Survey and Land Registry data to create a detailed 3D model which concluded that rooftops in London’s fare zones 1 and 2 had enough space to provide for 40,000 new homes. This work followed a separate study carried out in 2016 by HTA Design for rooftop developer Apex Airspace, which put capacity across Greater London at 140,000.
Responding to the PDR announcement, RIBA president Ben Derbyshire warned of the potential for poor-quality schemes to be built. He said: ’It has become clear the permitted development of offices to residential housing has led to terrible homes.
’The government’s consultation on commercial property and upward development must avoid a repeat of these failings by ensuring proper oversight of projects.’
The consultation will run until 14 January 2019.
Victoria skyline after