Government Launches Consultation on Upward Extensions in London

On the 18th February the Government published a consultation document on three proposals to encourage upward extension in London allowing property owners to add additional storeys to buildings.

The aim of the proposals is to build more homes whilst protecting London’s open spaces and its green belt. The consultation is also in response to research which shows that only 2% of homes completed in London since 2008 were delivered as a result of developments which included some element of upwards extension.

The consultation presents three proposals to facilitate upward development:

  1. Permitted Development Rights for additional storeys in London
  2. Local Development Order for additional storeys in specific areas
  3. Policy support in the London Plan

These proposals are not mutually exclusive and all three could potentially be introduced.

Option 1: Permitted Development Rights for additional storeys in London

In recent years the Government has introduced a series of new permitted development rights including householder extensions and change of use from office to residential. Proposals availing of these rights are exempt from normal planning policy considerations but require the ‘prior approval’ of the local authority on a limited number of defined matters.

The proposed right would allow additional storeys to be built on an existing building to provide additional self-contained housing units and would apply above a range of uses, including existing flats or houses, retail and other high street uses, and offices.

Buildings could be extended by one storey where the roofline of the adjoining building is one storey taller or two storeys where the roofline of the adjoining building is a minimum of 2 storeys taller. Adjacent properties could also be included, even if they do not adjoin a taller building, so long as they are included in the same application. However, the right to build upwards would not otherwise apply incrementally to premises adjacent to those where the right has already been exercised.

Proposals would require the ‘prior approval’ of the Council on flood, contamination risk and transport/highways impacts. Internal space standards and the method and hours of construction may also require prior approval. Proposals would also be subject to a neighbourhood consultation process. The matters require prior approval may change if the Government progresses these permitted development rights.

A number of exclusions would apply, including listed buildings, scheduled monuments and World Heritage Sites, SSSIs and safety hazard areas. Conservation Areas could be included, with local authorities given the power to consider any impacts of the proposed development on the Conservation Area or a protected view.

Option 2: Local Development Order for additional storeys in specific areas

Local authorities in London would be given the power to grant Local Development Orders allowing additional storeys. The Orders could cover specific buildings or areas, or could be borough wide.

Each Order could be tailored to meet the needs of the area with aspects such as transport/highways impacts, space standards or affordable housing considered when being drawn up by the local authority. However, prior approval on some matters may still be required by the local authority, such as the design of the extension, the impact on existing business uses, or the method and hours of construction.

Option 3: Policy Support in the London Plan

The final option would be for new policy wording to be introduced in the London Plan supporting additional storeys to provide new dwellings. Such policies could be linked to existing policies in areas of intensification, including town centres.

However, under this option planning permission would still be required.

The consultation document does not provide timescales on when each option could be introduced. Local Development Orders and London Plan policy support would need to be advanced through the normal plan making process, whilst the permitted development rights would be introduced by legislation.

The consultation runs until 15th April 2016.

If you would like to know more about this consultation, submit a response to the consultation or find out how this could affect your property please contact:

Karen Jones
Operations Director
0207 832 0259

Matthew Brewer
0207 832 0254

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