Planning Permission Tips UK - How To Select A Property to Extend or Develop
By Martin Meaks
Many people purchasing a property for their main home actually look for a property with a view to extending it.
This is a very common theme that I have come across time and time again. Their motivation for doing this is usually
1. - They cant afford what they actually require so they intend to extend on the assumption that it will be
cheaper for them in the end.
2. They want the location but are unable to find the right property so remodelling & extending a smaller one
will create their near perfect home.
The rights and wrongs of these two motivations are another news letter in themselves but we shall save this for
However, by the time they call in the Building Designer or Planning Consultant a lot of their aspirations are
dashed due to either selecting either the wrong property or wrong location.
Here we explain 10 of the most common tips to observe when looking for property to extend and hopefully you will
avoid a costly mistake. Many of these planning tips have already been discussed in previous news letters and are
covered in depth in our Maximum Build Planning Guide.
1. CHECK OUT THE SITE ZONING.
No matter how much potential a site has its absolutely no good if its in Green Belt for example and already been
extended. As a guide, 50% is the maximum additional development area you can have for extending in Green Belt &
that's measured from when the property was first erected. AONB and Conservation Areas can also restrict development
but the Council is usually more concerned with enhancing and preserving the local character rather than size.
2. ASSESS THE SITES LEVELS.
Sloping sites can be both advantageous and detrimental to development. If the only location to ideally extend is
on the lower side of the property then this can be assessed as being too overbearing by the amount of bulk
necessary underneath for continuous floor levels for example.
3. ASSESS THE SITING OF THE NEIGHBOURING PROPERTIES.
Sometimes the siting or orientation of a neighbouring property can influence the size & siting of your own
house extension. If your extension makes the adjoining neighbours property appear worse on a site or the extension
is away from the main built up mass of the adjoining properties then there can be an argument for the extended
dwelling to have an adverse overbearing influence upon the neighbour.
4. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF ANY ADJOINING NEIGHBOURS WINDOWS.
Side windows to principal rooms often have a right of light and any extension that could affect this light. This
can be a very complicated issue. Many Councils have created design guides on this issue. Even front and rear facing
neighbours windows can influence the size & design of your extension. It is important to know what windows will
be affected and if they will impact upon your own design aspirations for the property.
5. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF PRINCIPAL TREES AND SITE SCREENING.
Existing trees & screening hedges play an important part of the local character & are generally
preserved by the Planners if they can. If your development scheme to extend a property involves removing or
potentially affecting the life of an important tree or hedgerow then this can affect the outcome of the Planning
6. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF MAIN SEWERS.
Things have relaxed a little more regarding main sewers but this does often mean paying another fee to the Local
Water Board and potentially very costly diversion or deep foundation works that could make your development scheme
inviable. A combination of site inspections and checking the sewer maps at the Council or Local Water Board will
7. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF THE COUNCILS DESIGN GUIDES.
Many people expect to be able to build right up the boundary line for a two storey side extension for example.
Most Councils will not endorse this approach except for exceptional site specific circumstances. Adhering to the
principal of the Councils design guides will help a smooth passage of you scheme through the Planning permission
process but you need to ensure that these guides are applicable and can actually fit to your particular property.
Often they are unworkable for a property on a very small plot for example.
8. DOES THE HOUSE ACTUALLY LEND ITSELF TO AN EXTENSION.
Believe it or not just because a property has the potential to be extended, not all extensions will improve the
visual appearance or enhance the character of a property. Some extensions can actually detract from a properties
appeal and value. Look around the street for other example that may give you clues as to what works and what
doesn't. Some properties are actually just right as they are and should not be tinkered with externally.
9. HOW OLD IS THE PROPERTY.
Most newer dwellings especially those built on estates over the last 15 years have already been engineered for
maximum development onto the site and have very little scope for further alterations or extensions that will
provide more space that will be acceptable to the Planning Dept. It is usually the older 'ribbon' type of dwelling
that offers most scope for residential development that are usually on wider and larger plots.
10. CALL IN A BUILDING DESIGNER OR PLANNING CONSULTANT BEFORE YOU PURCHASE.
Having a second opinion by an experienced professional who will give an 'in principal' opinion on what can be
achieved for the property is a real life saver. All too often clients call us in far too late and being the bearer
of bad news is never pleasant. We charge a small one off fee for this service where others will come and view for
free. Within a short look over the property we can often advise you what can be achieved for the property and very
often come up with ideas and observations that you may have never considered as being an option or a good
Our 'Maximum Build Planning Guide' explains further the design and planning issues on residential development
and how to extend a house.
Our 'Maximum Build Planning Guide' explains further the issues involved when extending or developing a
property in the UK for planning permission.
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