Support growing for London ‘upward extension’ scheme

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Planning Law on Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

In recent days, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has extended his backing to an innovative ‘upward extension’ scheme proposed for London, which would make it easier for City businesses and homeowners to add additional floors to their properties.

The proposed policy, which was initially consulted on by the Department for Communities and Local Government in April 2016, will now form part of the Government’s upcoming National Planning Policy, after it was largely met with enthusiasm and positivity from consultation respondents.

The ‘upward extension’ plan would enable home and commercial property owners who wish to free-up extra space in existing houses, offices, shops and blocks of flats greater freedom to extend their properties upwards.

It is yet to be confirmed whether this will be achieved by amendments to permitted development rights or via local development orders. However, the Government has indicated that any extensions made under the scheme would need to be lower than the roofline level of any other buildings in the surrounding area.

The initial consultation into the matter received hundreds of responses – the majority of which were in support of introducing the plans.

The general consensus was that the policy would enable councils to maintain open spaces and the character of an area without compromising the need for new homes, but that ‘physical practicalities’ could prove to be restrictive.

“We welcome the support for the principle of upward extensions to existing premises to provide more homes in London,” a Government spokesperson said.

“The responses have confirmed that there is potential to deliver more homes by increasing densities on brownfield land.”

Since the Government’s announcement, Sajid Javid has described the plans as “creative” in their approach to “make effective use of the space we already have available” and “build up, rather than build out” in London.

He indicated that the Government would move to “strengthen planning rules” in a bid to “encourage developers to be more innovative.”

“Planning policies and decisions should respond positively to suitable opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes,” he said.

“They should allow residential and commercial premises to extend upwards, where such extensions would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, are well-designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), respect the privacy of neighbours and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.”

The National Planning Policy in its draft form – which will include further details of the ‘upward extension’ scheme – will be consulted on later this year.

For more information, contact our Planning Associate Salvatore Amico.


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