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London could grow up as extension rules are relaxed

Olive Morris House site
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London developers will find it easier to raise two extra storeys onto their properties, under government proposals aimed at increasing housing supply

The proposals, put forward in a Whitehall consultation paper last week, suggest a menu of three means by which planning restrictions on building extensions may be eased.

Up to two more storeys could be added for new homes by either:

  • Devising a London-wider ‘permitted development right’ under which prior approval is agreed for the extra floors;
  • Updating City Hall’s rulebook, the London Plan, to support ’upward extensions for new homes’;
  •  Allowing the capital’s boroughs to issue ‘local development orders’ that allow extensions for specified areas or building types.

The consultation paper lists several building types and areas for which the easing of upward extensions should not apply.

These include: listed buildings and the land around them; sites of specific scientific interest and military explosives storage areas.

The paper suggests the new relaxation could apply to residential, office, and retail real estate.

The proposals have been welcomed by real estate investors through their umbrella organisation, the British Property Federation.

Its chief executive Melanie Leech described the proposed move as a ’a helpful tool which will encourage innovation and the more efficient use of space’.

The BPF does not expect the proposals to deliver ’an enormous amount of new homes,’ she added.

Figures cited in the consultation paper show that less than 2 per cent of new homes each year are built by upward extension of existing buildings.

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