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In October 2018 the Government published a consultation entitled “Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes”. Within that consultation the Government asked a number of questions regarding the role building upwards can play in delivering new homes by using the airspace above existing buildings. Reflecting national planning policy it invited views on options for a permitted development right that would go further to support the creation of new homes.
More than half of those who responded to the consultation did not consider that upwards extensions should be delivered through a permitted development right. Concerns were raised that communities and local planning authorities would have no say over how and where a permitted development right might be applied; the quality of homes delivered by building up; how access and safety would be addressed; and the impact on the existing occupiers and neighbours of the premises being extended. The introduction of a permitted development right to build upwards may mean existing telecommunications infrastructure would be moved or removed and increase the value of rooftops, increasing the cost of future mobile infrastructure.
Support for a permitted development right recognised that increasing density may relieve pressure for additional housing sites, allow for additional homes to be created by transport hubs and in town centres, and reduce the need for development in the green belt. There were also suggestions that local development orders may be a more suitable approach to achieve well designed upwards extensions in appropriate locations.
The Government asked a number of more technical questions about:
- Overall height limits;
- Addressing the impact where the ground is not level;
- The number of additional storeys permitted;
- Other types of premises suitable to extend upwards;
- Whether the local authority should be allowed to consider the extend of the works proposed;
- Upward extensions for the enlargement of an existing home.
The responses to these questions were mixed. Suggestions for other planning matters that should be included in any prior approval application for the new permitted development right included the need for infrastructure including affordable housing, air quality, water and drainage, mobile connectivity and the location of existing telecommunications equipment, transport and parking, access to education and health facilities, recreation and play space, construction safety and management, the provision of green infrastructure, the size and quality of the homes proposed, as well as any potential impact on the vitality or viability of a shopping area.
In it's response the Government has welcomed the range and detail of responses to their questions on the introduction of a permitted development right for upward extensions of existing buildings to create new homes. Its intention is to bring forward a permitted development right but wants that right to respect the design of the existing streetscape, while ensuring the amenity of existing neighbours is considered. However, the Government recognises the complexity of designing a permitted development right to build upwards and will continue to engage with interested parties on technical details.